-By: Patrick Ochei:
The Delta State Capital Territory, Asaba, was today, August 30th, 2018, agog as journalists representing different media houses filed out in their numbers to protest against what they termed incessant harassment of journalists in line with the national executive council’s demand.
During the protest which took off at the Ministry of Information’s secretariat along Summit Road, a former Chairman Emeritus of the Delta State Council of NUJ, Comrade Osita Biose was on hand and duly addressed members of the Union.
Biose who maintained that journalists must be respected in view of their constitutional responsibility of disseminating information and setting agenda for society, called on government at all levels to protect these rights of Practitioners.
He affirmed that no matter the provocation, no authority or highly placed individual has a right to arrest, detain or violently attack a journalist without first exploring the options of mediation, dialogue or redress through the court.
The highly revered unionist, however advised journalists to equally carry themselves with respect and do their job with utmost diligence, adding that the politicians who sometimes use them to achieve their personal results didn’t attend better schools than them.
Meanwhile, the Chairman of NUJ in the state, Comrade Michael Ikeogwu gave a stern warning to the federal government to stop impunity against journalists.
Ikeogwu posited that media Practitioners cannot continue to be intimidated, molested and detained while doing their job.
He however, called on security agencies and other members of society who indulge in maltreating and harassing journalists to desist forthwith or have the Union to contend with.
In his submission, the Vice Chairman of the State Council, Comrade Patrick Ochei averred that the Nigerian constitution guarantees the freedom of press and as such, the government must seek to protect Practitioners from harm’s way.
He gave instances with the arrest and detention of a colleague in Delta, Prince Daniel Ekiugbo by the DSS for several months; as well as the detention of the Bayelsa based journalist, Jones Abiri for two years at the DSS custody, maintaining that another horrific case at hand was the demolition of the Fresh FM station at Ibadan in Oyo State.
Moreover, while the Secretary of the Council, Comrade Churchill Oyowe believes that the freedom of the press is just a lip service assurance, the Chairperson of the Nigeria Association of Women Journalists, NAWOJ, Comrade Patricia Gbemudu said that enough is enough of the injustices meted out to journalists who are indeed members of the fourth estate of the realm.
They both demand that the government of the day should not take Nigerians back to the draconian days, but should respect and synergize with journalists in the interest of progress and development of the nation.
It was a worthwhile venture as members of the noble profession had a field day, expressing their grievances and calling on the public to join forces with the NUJ to fight the injustices against journalists.
While journalists in Delta protested, the same simultaneously went on nationwide to collectively press home these demands that were anchored on solidarity.