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Media groups tackle Presidency, N’Assembly over press council act amendment



Media groups under the Nigerian Press Organisation (NPO) have kicked against the proposed amendment of the Nigerian Press Council Act over the inclusion of some clauses they described as unconstitutional.
The bill was considered at a public hearing organised by the House of Representatives Committee on Information, national orientation, ethics and values on Thursday.
Some media rights groups and other critical stakeholders in the media industry have also vowed to resist any move to infringe on press freedom through the proposed amendment of the NPC Act.
The NPO, an umbrella body of the Newspapers Proprietors Association of Nigeria (NPAN), Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE) and Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ), argued that such clauses were a threat to press freedom.
A member of the NPO delegation, Azu Ishiekwene, said almost a half of the 39 clauses in the bill contained unconstitutional regulations that could stifle journalism practice.
He said the NPO had challenged the clauses up to the Supreme Court, and that continuing with the amendment would amount to preempting the court on the matter.
“It is a matter that has been pending in court since 1999 but the first decisive ruling in the matter came in 2010 when the high court ruled that 17 out of the 39 clauses in the bill were unconstitutional,” he said.
“The Federal Government appealed and got a ruling in December 2010. That ruling was again appealed by the NPO and it is pending at the Supreme Court.
“If you make a law now that binds the hands of the legislation or tilts the legislation one way or the order you are preempting the outcome of what the court is going to do.”
the International Press Centre (IPC) alongside Media Rights Agenda (MRA), Centre for Media Law and Advocacy (CMLA) and the Premium Times Centre For Investigation Journalism (PTCIJ) have also kicked against moves to infringe on press freedom and media independence in Nigeria.
Executive Director at the IPC, Lanre Arogundade, contributing, said, “The provision of 3 (d) constitutes a potential threat to press freedom and media survival as it does not provide for judicial intervention before highly punitive measures are handed down by the council and indeed could be used as a political weapon against the media.
“The section provides for penalties and fines against violation of the press code by print media houses and media practitioners, including revocation of licence.
“Section 17 (3) (a) & (b) provides that a journalist could be held liable for the offence committed by his or her organisation and can be made to pay a fine of N250,000.”
Arogundade added that another “punitive” clause is in section 21 (5) (a) whose amendment is such that “a journalist can be punished by the council even after he/she might have been found guilty by a court of law and without the council going back to the court to report continued infringement.
“Section 33 (3) and (4) does not give room for retraction or apology where a fake news is mistakenly published but recommends a blanket sanction of up to N10m or closure for a period of one year.”
A former Rep member and former Chairman of the Nigerian Union of Journalists, Sani Zorro, expressed concern over the NPC bill amendment, which he noted, was coming at a time when the government had taken some decision in regulating social media.
Zorro said the best way to go was for the NPC and critical stakeholders in the media industry to dialogue and chart way forward in the best interest of all.
He advocated that the NPC Board should be made up of professionals rather than being a “political board” which will not augur well for the interest of the media industry.
The Radio, Television and Theatre Arts Workers Union of Nigeria (RATTAWU), said Section 3 of the bill which wanted to empower the NPC to “approve penalties and fines against violation of the Press Codes by print media houses and media practitioners, including revocation of license,” should be expunged, arguing that print media houses were business ventures registered by the CAC and not NPC.
The union said any move to censor them would amount to a nullity.
National President of RATTAWU, Comrade Kabiru Garba, also pointed out that Section 9(1) of the bill which said, “the council shall establish a national press and ethical code of conduct for media houses and media practitioners, which shall come to effect and be disseminated after approval by the minister”, should be discarded.
He said the codes should rather come from the board of the council comprising all the stakeholders.
But Executive-secretary of the NPC, Francis Nwosu, commended the amendment of the bill and recommended that the council should also be empowered to regulate online media.

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Flaunting wealth in public a serious security risk, DSS official warns



An official of the Department of State Services (DSS) has warned that the public display of wealth constitutes a great security risk.

Paul Oduh, the deputy director, security enforcement, DSS Kwara command, gave the warning on Friday in Ilorin, capital of the state.


He said the deliberate exhibition of affluence and a flamboyant lifestyle attract kidnappers, bandits, and other criminals.


The comment comes in the wake of the extravagant display at the much talked about funeral of the mother of Obinna Iyiegbu, the nightlife promoter popularly known as Obi Cubana.

The DSS deputy director said given the security challenges in the country, Nigerians should avoid showing off in public.


“People must adopt moderate lifestyles, so as not to fall prey to these criminal elements,” Oduh said.


Oduh said a boastful attitude and maintaining a “habitual daily routine” can also make people prone to attacks.

“The country is ravaged by insecurity on daily basis. However, people should not despair, security should be concern of all people and they must be enlightened on it,” he said.


“Security can never be 100 percent everywhere in the world. People should be knowledgeable enough on those things they can do to protect themselves.


“Security denotes free from danger and protection of lives and property where individuals can pursue their lawful activities.


“There is need to accept that threats exist and people are targets of these threats. This is why people should put in place measures to safeguard themselves from such threats.”





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PHOTOS: Nigeria dazzles in Tokyo Olympic opening parade






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I don’t need your cheques, Buhari tells contractor



President Muhammadu Buhari on Friday charged contractors who have enjoyed government patronage as well as other privileged citizens to use their resources to support less privileged members of society.


President Buhari gave the charge when he paid a visit to the Emir of Daura, Dr Umar Faruk Umar.


He said passing gifts and ‘cheques’ to people in authority or already comfortable to buy favour is not the right approach.


According to a statement by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu, President Buhari challenged beneficiaries of government patronage to go to their respective communities and engage in corporate social responsibilities.


The President said: “I don’t want your cheque. Go and assist our communities” instead of trying to return kickbacks to public officers, including his office.


“We don’t want cheques from anyone or organisation as returns or influence of any kind. Let them remember their Corporate Social Responsibilities,” he said.


The President noted he would love to visit Daura more frequently but for the high cost of presidential movements and exposing security personnel to the weather, assuring his heart remains with the people.

“We are known for farming and I have my farm here. I could come every two weeks and no one can stop me.

“But the cost to the movement is high. I would rather that it be used to better our schools, clinics and hospitals,” said the President.

The President said the grace of God had kept Nigeria together as a country in spite of differences that led to a 30-month civil war


“We want to thank God always for keeping us together as a country. From January 15, 1966, the country was thrown into political crisis. We had a 30 months civil war that resulted in the loss of about a million lives.


“We still thank God for keeping us together. We remain grateful to all those who showed interest in our unity and progress. May God continue to bless them,” he added.


The President, who recalled fond memories of visiting the Palace as a military Head of State, expressed happiness that the warmth and hospitality of the traditional institution had been sustained over the years.


At the meeting, the Emir publicly announced conferment of the title of Talban Daura on Yusuf Buhari, son of President Buhari.


He said a date would be announced for the turbaning ceremony of the President’s son, which might likely be before his marriage.


The Emir also announced creation of a District in the community of the President, with headquarters in Dimurkol.

He said the turbaning of younger Buhari and creation of the District was to further extend and deepen the long relationship between the Palace and the family.


He said the decision was in agreement with the kingmakers in Daura Emirate Council.


During the visit, the Palace used the opportunity to clarify the difference between two titles, Talban Hausa, given to Alpha Conde, the President of Guinea and Talban Daura designated for Yusuf, the President’s son.


The Palace explained that Daura, as the linchpin of the Hausa society had conferred titles that have bearing on the Hausa Kingdom and those that are specific to the Emirate.

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