PROTECTING THE MEDIA IN NIGERIA
It is illegal and undemocratic for the Presidency to unleash the Police on the Leadership newspaper and the staff. Violation of the freedom of the media was one of the hallmarks of the military era in Nigeria. It is not expected in our democratic experiment. The invasion of the Leadership newspaper by the Police is not the first since Nigeria started it quest for democracy. It is sad to note that Nigeria and Nigerians are continuously humiliated by our leaders.
What did Leadership newspaper publish that will justify the Police invasion? It is heart breaking that Nigeria is driven by leaders – from national to local government – who deride the tenets of democracy. They practice democracy in speeches. One can say that the leadership in Nigeria is predominantly in the hands of pretenders – the executive and the legislature. This accounts for the reason why they continuously throw up ethnic and religious cards to divide and hoodwink our people. In this country, we have rulers, not leaders!
We need to repeat that government is not above the law. So, if what the Leadership newspaper published is false or disparaging, the Courts are there for recourse. Imagine the boost it would have been for our democracy, if Mr. President had sued Leadership newspaper for libel? The lesson would have been: I believe in rule of law, Nigerians should too.
Impunity and above the law syndrome are part the bedrock of the violence we have in our society. When a society rejects rule of law, it nurtures violence. If we are sincerely interested in creating a safe Nigeria, we must collectively say no to impunity. There is an imperative need for a conscious campaign to always turn to the law in processing our grievances than utiluzing the ‘agbero’ or ‘area boy’ bravado style, which has permeated our society. In our country, a landlord will shun the due process of law and use self help in dealing with a tenant. Our Police cannot secure Nigerians from Book Haram because it is highly distracted from its core mandate. In this country, you use Police to arrest street tradets, a job the Boys Scout can do.
The Nigeria Police Force must understand that, in a corruption ridden country like ours, its development and efficiency depend on the public voice. The public is not speaking in its favour because the public sees the Police as an abuser of the public. This is dangerous for internal security. There is need, therefore, for the Nigeria Police Force to shun impunity and abuse of the rights of our people.
For the various media associations in the country, they must accept that ‘an injury to one, is an injury to all’, regardless of the political affiliations or memberships of the owners. If the media houses cannot protest in the streets, they protest in their news rooms by refusing to publish the activities of government for a period, say a week, if the violation is so grievous. There is need to be more proactive in fighting impunity in Nigeria.
I condemn the Police invasion of the Leadership newspaper, the arrest and the detention of the journalists that work for the newspaper house. Is this a sign that 2015 might witness many reprisals, especially of free speech and freedom to think?
I love Nigeria, my country, let’s make rule of law the corner stone of our democracy!