Journalists in parts of the country yesterday trooped out to protest intimidation and harassment against them by law enforcement agents while carrying out their legitimate duties.
The nationwide protest, the journalists said, was in line with the directive from the National Secretariat of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ). In Umuahia, Abia State, the protesters bemoaned the “present suffocating atmosphere and intimidation of the media by the Federal Government and its agencies” and called for a stop.

The union also called on Nigerians to rise up and support the struggle for unfettered freedom of the press since it represented the guaranteed freedom of expression enshrined in the constitution. The NUJ National Secretariat had directed that a “Day of Protest” be observed in all states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) “to raise awareness and gain more support for the fight against incidents of impunity against the media”.
Chairman of Abia State Council of NUJ, Mr. John Emejo, led the protesting journalists who marched around the precinct of the NUJ Press Centre in Aba/Bende Road Tower roundabout, carrying placards and chanting solidarity and freedom songs. Some of the placards expressing their feelings read:

“Victimisation of journalists is a crime against humanity,” “Democracy can’t survive without the media,” “Journalism is not a crime,” “Enough is Enough.” After the protest, Emejor said it was unfortunate that journalists in Nigeria were now complaining of intimidation and harassment in a democratic era after emerging from the throes of military regime.
He reminded the present political actors that it would amount to hypocrisy for them to profess democracy and at the same time muzzle the media which was one of the major pillars on which democratic governance was rooted. The chairman also condemned the non-payment of salaries of journalists by media owners, noting that such things constituted great assaults on journalism profession. In his remarks, the General Manager of an Umuahia -based media outfit, Modern Communications Limited (MCL), and veteran broadcaster, Mr. Chimdi Oluoha, said that any leader who truly loved democracy should provide conducive atmosphere for the media to operate without any form of intimidation.
He said: “It is important that we draw the attention of not only the government but every member of the society to ensure that journalists are protected.” The pioneer state Chairman of Abia NUJ, Mr. Ogbonnaya Iheaka, regretted that journalists were not accorded the desired respect and dignity unlike what obtained in developed democracies where the profession was highly revered. In a peaceful demonstration in Gusau, Zamfara State, the state Acting Chairman of the NUJ, Abubakar Ahmed, said the Nigerian society lacked knowledge of journalism and its constitutional role in the development of the country.
A letter, which was addressed to President Muhammadu Buhari and entitled: “Protection of Nigerian Journalists,” written by the National Secretariat of NUJ, was delivered to the state Acting Governor, Malam Ibrahim Wakkala, who was represented by the Commissioner for Information, Muhammad Danjari Kwatarkwashi.

Derick BAKAH

Derick BAKAH

Bakah Derick is a Broadcast Presenter and Multimedia specialist with focus on sharing with the rest of the world the daily happenings in the Northwest Region of Cameroon. You can contact us on +237 675460750 or debakah2004@gmail.com.

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