Nosa Igiebor, a veteran journalist and cofounder of Tell Communications, publishers of Tell Magazine, has backed calls for media blackout against the government in protest against the planned amendment to the law to authorising the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) and the Nigerian Press Council (NPC) to censor the media.
The bills, which are at the public hearing stage at the National Assembly, generated criticism of the Muhammadu Buhari Administration, following the earlier indefinite ban and criminalisation of the use of Twitter in Nigerian.
In an interview with the ICIR, Igiebor described the government’s plan as a desperate attempt to control the narrative about its performance. He therefore urged both electronic and print media platforms to black the government out for a day.
“We say that is a warning notice and that we are doing it to register our protest against the attempt by government to curtail freedom of speech. It is not just about freedom of press. It is about the freedom of every citizen to express themselves,” Igiebor said.
“So I agree that if they do not relent, the media and the public need to take such drastic measures to let them know that we would not take this lying low and that we would never accept it.”
He noted that in addition to challenging a censorship law by the government in court, the media should disregard the law.
“Go to court, fine. Then make that law inoperable…So if they make a law to gag us, why should we obey it? Yes, we can challenge it in court, we are saying this law, we are not going obey it,” he said.
Igiebor opined that repressive bills against the media by the government led by Buhari is an effort to control the narrative about its achievements.
“They are desperate that they cannot control the narrative about their failure, so they lash out at Twitter, journalists, the media and everybody. They are looking for whom to blame. But we know they will fail. They can only succeed.”
He also said that the media could not be exonerated from the emergence of Buhari as President, as his ambition should have been scrutinized.
“It is unfortunate that a large portion of the media is complicit in helping promote the propaganda that brought this government into power. We are all reaping the consequences of that catastrophic dereliction on our part,” the veteran journalist said.
“We never sat down to seriously assess Buhari’s candidature and all the promises he was making. We suffered from self-induced amnesia about General Mohammed Buhari. If not, the media should have been in the forefront of saying no we need to be careful about this man.”
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