PRESS FREEDOM AS A FOCAL POINT ON WORLD PRESS DAY

In a collective voice of reunion, journalists across the globe observed the World Press Freedom Day A. And here in Nigeria, we watched with sadness the Information Minister, Labaran Maku deliver a homily to Journalists on rules of behaviour and proper engagement with the government that he is part of, with the argument that the Nigerian press is one of the freest in the world. Mr. Labaran Maku in delivering his soured homily has forgotten so soon the gory history of successive Nigerian governments including the one he is part of, in dealing with the Nigerian press. He has obviously developed a cold amnesia on the hounding of countless newsmen and the brutal killing of Journalists, from the mindless assassination of Dele Giwa, founding Editor in Chief and Chief Executive of Newswatch Communications Ltd. to the vicious murder of Bayo Ohu of the Guardian, and Edo Sule Ugbagwu of the Nation Newspapers, to mention but a few.

While there may not have been any assassination or murder of any Journalist under the Administration he is currently serving as Information Minister, we cannot help but draw the parallels, as this government has hounded and sent many Journalists and other innocent Nigerians to their untimely graves by failing to provide security, and an enabling environment, and by creating, and perpetuating the permeating terrorism and violent atmosphere that has led to their deaths.

We salute the courage and resolve of the Nigerian Journalist in not only advancing and defending the cause of freedom but in pursuing the paths of peace, and we challenge the government to as a matter of urgency look seriously into the hounding and killing of Nigerian Journalists every so often, and we task this Administration to be true to the core fundamental objective and directive principle of State policy as enshrined in the constitution which provides that sovereignty belongs to the Nigerian people from whom the government derives its powers and authority, and that the security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of government. We need our journalists, and indeed every Nigerian to be free from all forms of fear, and intimidation, and we need them to be free to speak out, and to do what is right, and not what is expedient or politically correct. Every journalist from the newsroom to the boardroom must have a personal sense of ethic and responsibility-a moral compass. What is more, they have a responsibility to voice their personal conscience out loud, and allow others around them to do so as well.

Conclusively, we urge the present administration to provide the enabling environment, and muster the political will necessary to remove all forms of insecurity, terrorism, violence, fear and impunity from this country. We call on this government to re-open with all sense of urgency, inquiry and investigation into the brutal killing twenty-four years ago of Dele Giwa. We also ask the Administration to re-energise the investigation into the vicious murder of Bayo Ohu, and ferret out the Assassins of Edo Sule Ugbagwu, as well as hunt out the killers of many other Journalists around the country.

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RECALCITRANT HAWKERS IN LAGOS TRAFFIC

We all are aware of the fact that that ‘advanced’ street hawking takes place on the busy Lagos roads, from Ikorodu to Oshodi, Ikeja to Obalende, Abule-Egba to Sango-Ota, the list seem endless. Many lives have been lost on the highways, despite the relentless efforts of the state government to put a final full-stop on the life-threatening commercial risk.