World Press Freedom Day: Stakeholders Want Protection For Journalists | Independent Newspapers Limited
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World Press Freedom Day: Stakeholders Want Protection For Journalists

Posted: May 4, 2016 at 3:31 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

Seyi Taiwo-Oguntuase


As the world celebrated the world Press Freedom day on Tuesday, stakeholders in the profession have called for the support of everyone in the society to protect and respect journalists across the country.

The appeal was made at the launch of the Nigerian Journalists’ Safety Project, Lagos, at the International Press Centre, Ogba.

Mr. Gbemiga Ogunleye, Provost of the Nigerian Institute of Journalism, (NIJ) who was Chairman at the launch, noted that journalists performed crucial functions in the society and therefore deserved the protection of everyone.

According to him, when journalists are intimidated, attacked or killed, it is not only their family or media organisation that suffered the loss, but the entire nation suffered the collateral damage.

Ogunleye, who noted that journalism ranks as the most important profession in the world said: “Perhaps no other individual living or dead has emphasised the importance of the media and the great role journalists play in any society than the third President of the United States of America, Thomas Jefferson, who stated that the role of the press in checking the excesses of government officials is so important that he would prefer to have newspapers without government to government without newspapers.”

The NIJ Provost said that many civilized governments have recognised freedom of expression as a fundamental human right and one of the distinguishing features of a democratic society.

“Therefore, journalists, who champion this right, who have been enjoined by Section 22 of the amended 1999 Constitution, to monitor governance and hold government accountable deserve to be protected,” he added.

Also speaking, Mrs. Victoria Ibanga, General Secretary of the Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE), assured that the NGE would partner with stakeholders in the country to bring an end to incessant cases of attacks and killings of journalists.

She said there is an urgent need to ensure a safe environment for journalists in Nigeria, stressing that journalists all over Nigeria are vulnerable.

“We are vulnerable in the sense that our profession demands that we interface between the government and the people on a daily basis. In essence, we are in danger, and if you like, we are endangered species. We are as vulnerable as the soldiers at the war front. The only difference is that they have the support of various governments.”

On his part, Lanre Arogundade, Director of International Press Centre (IPC) noted that the initiative was supported by the Open Society Foundation with the overall goal of facilitating a free and safe environment for journalists and other media professionals in the country.