The media, along with other media stakeholders in the country, re-emphasised again yesterday its opposition to the Nigerian Press Council bill 2018, pointing out that the bill is anti-people, draconian, a carry-over from the military, unconstitutional and sub judice.
Mr. Nduka Obaigbena, President of the Newspaper Proprietors’ Association of Nigeria (NPAN), who is also the President, Nigerian Press Organisation (NPO), which comprises of the NPAN, the Nigeria Guild of Editors (NGE), the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ), reaffirmed this yesterday, at the public hearing on the Nigerian Press Council Bill 2018.
The hearing was organised by the Senate Committee on Information and National Orientation, chaired by Senator Sulaiman A. Adokwe and was declared open by the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, who was represented by the the Senate’s spokesman, Dr Aliu Sabi Abdullahi.
Mr. Obaigbena spoke even as the Life Patron of the NPAN, Mal. Ismaila Isamni, clarified that the media community turned out overwhelmingly for the hearing, out of utmost respect for the National Assembly, the Senate and the Committee. Also present was the Publisher of Vanguard Newspapers, Mr. Sam Amuka.
Mal. Isa said the court case on the Press Council, which was instituted several years ago, is still pending before the Supreme Court, and that one would have expected that the National Assembly would have allowed the justice system to run its full course before any other thing.
The media stakeholders, who took turn to speak and raised a common objection to the bill at yesterday’s hearing, were Mr. John Momoh, Chairman, Broadcasting Organisation of Nigeria (BON) who was represented, Mrs Funke Egbemode, President, Nigeria Guild of Editors (NGE), Mr. Waheed Jinadu, President, Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ), Mr. Edeatan Ojo, Executive Director, Media Rights Agenda (MRA), Mr. Lanre Arogundade, Director, International Press Centre ((IPC), Akin Akingbolu PhD, Executive Director, Institute for Media and Society (IMS) and NPAN legal team led by Ms. Mobisola Akerele and Paul Ngbeoma of the Tayo Oyetibo and Co Chambers.
The NPO President said the bill sought to create the impression that the Nigerian media community did not take the issues of ethics and self regulation seriously, whereas it was a well known fact that the mechanisms actually exist, including the Code of Conduct of Journalists in Nigeria, the Ethics Committees of the NUJ and NGE and the recently launched Nigerian Media Code of Election Coverage endorsed by media stakeholders.