- … it serves into the hands of the government by handing sweeping prosecutorial powers to the president and the minister of information.
Nigerian daily newspapers expressed their disdain for the bills in their respective editorials on Tuesday, saying, while the media is not averse to regulation, it wants it done without undermining its independence.
This follows Monday’s widely circulated advertorial in the same dailies, calling on the government to shut down two controversial media bills at the National Assembly.
According to the newspapers, in their editorials, the bills do not offer the independent regulatory possibility the media said it was open to.
Instead, it serves into the hands of the government by handing sweeping prosecutorial powers to the president and the minister of information.
EKO HOT BLOG culled some exceprts from the editorials
“…Obviously, these amendments in question seek to arrogate all media powers and control to the president, through the Minister of Information and quasi-public agencies such as the NBC. In that instance, the media ceases to be independent but only functions at the mood and discretion of the presidency. Otherwise, how come, unlike other regulatory agencies such as the National Communications Commission, (NCC), it is only the media sector regulators – the NBC & the NPC – that the appointment of the boards are not subject to the confirmation of the Senate but merely an affair between the office of the Minister of Information and the President? That provision effectively undermines the capability of the National Assembly to perform its oversight functions in accordance with Section 88 of the Constitution…” – Who is afraid of free press?, The Guardian Newspaper (July 13, 2021).
“…The NPC bill is typically odious; it attempts to control the media in a manner fit only for dictatorships. It seeks to regulate the print media through a press code and standards, proposes to grant or revoke publishing licences, register, or delist journalists and laughably “ensure truthful, genuine and quality services and media practitioners.” It empowers the new Press Council to solely determine ethics and “fake news,” investigate infractions and punish errant operators…” – Assault on the press cannot stand, The PUNCH Newspaper (July 13, 2021).
“…The contentious bills seek to create extra harsh laws, toppling the courts of law and criminalising media business as well as the profession. The bills seek to create a monster Minister of Information with the media as his footstool. Simply put, the media would operate as a department of the Ministry of Information where the partisan Minister will draw up the Code of Ethics and ensure responsibility of the press…” – Halt Odebunmi’s toxic Media Bills, Vanguard (July 13, 2021).
“…The obnoxious bills also seek to give regulatory bodies judicial powers and by so doing usurp the powers of the courts. The bills, if passed into law, intend to regulate the print media and related media houses, impose sanctions on perceived areas of infringement, including fines and terms of imprisonment against journalists and media houses…” – No to anti-media bills, Daily Sun (July 13, 2021).
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