The national leadership of the Nigeria Union of Journalists, NUJ, Abuja has warned Zamfara State security council against violating constitutional provisions of freedom of Media followi shutdown of some media Houses in Gusau.
In a Press statement signed by the National Secretary of the Union, Shuaibu Usman Leman said, the state government needs to quickly reverse the decision as it is embarrassing.
The press statement reads;
We call on the Zamfara State Security Council, headed by His Excellency, Governor Bello Muhammad Matawalle to forthwith rescind its decision to shut down some media organisations in the State.
In a radio broadcast yesterday, the Commissioner of Information in the State, Ibrahim Dosara said that the affected media organisations, NTA, Gamji TV, Al’umma TV and Pride radio (FM) all based in Gusau the State capital had violated their professional ethics. He accused the stations of attending and covering a political rally organised by the Peoples Democratic Party-PDP in the State.
According to Dosara, the State Government had suspended all political activities in the State for security reasons, as such journalists are not expected to carry out their professional responsibilities as enshrined in the Nigerian Constitution in Chapter 2 Section 22, which states that “ The Press, Radio, Television and other agencies of mass media shall at all times be free to uphold the fundamental objectives contained in this Chapter (Chapter 2 of the Constitution) and uphold the responsibility and accountability of the government to the people.”
For a State Government to arbitrarily override a section of the Nigerian constitution and the National Broadcasting Commission-NBC code, in a democracy like ours, which recognises the role of the mass media, and the freedom of expression for its citizens speaks volume of the level of impunity the county has descended into.
It is instructive to emphasise that the media have a very crucial role to play in monitoring security institutions and their personnel thereby helping citizens to understand what is taking place all the time and to enable them to make informed decisions.
It is therefore counterproductive to attempt to muzzle free and independent media which are key elements in a democracy where they perform important roles as transmission buckles between the society and those who govern.
We quickly wish to remind the Chairman of the Zamfara State Security Council who is the Governor of the State to tread with caution because such ill-timed, hasty decisions taken without due deliberation will only aggravate the already fragile nature of security in the State. This development clearly negates the efforts to strengthen peace and restore normalcy in Zamfara State, and to promote democracy and development.
His Excellency, Bello Matawalle and members of the Zamfara State Security Council should act fast to correct this negative development, taking into consideration the fact that freedom of the media is essential in enabling democracy, free and participative societies.
Shuaibu Usman Leman