aitAll Progressives Congress, APC, has reversed the order by President-elect, Gen. Muhammadu Buhari, barring media houses described as unfriendly from covering his activities.
In a statement issued in Abuja yesterday by APC spokesman, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the party said all accredited media houses were free to cover the activities of Buhari.
The party said the incoming Buhari administration will not discriminate against any media organisation, irrespective of its role during the electioneering leading to the just-concluded polls.
It, however, warned that there would be repercussions within the ethics of the media for those organisations which violate the ethics of the profession, and enjoined all media practitioners to observe the highest level of professional standards in carrying out their duties.
Mohammed said: ‘’There must be repercussions, within the realms of the law, for media organisations which have wantonly breached the Code of Ethics of the journalism profession and turned themselves to partisans instead of
professionals. But such repercussions will not include barring any accredited media organisation from covering the activities of the President-elect.’’
Buhari had on Monday through his aides instructed that the Africa Independent Television, AIT, be barred from further covering his activities pending resolution of some issues.
According to Garba Shehu, head of media of Buhari’s campaign organisation, “AIT has been asked to stay aside based on security and family concerns. In addition, Buhari has decided that they will have to resolve some issues relating to standard and ethics.
“We will be talking with them to try and resolve the matter, but for now the station has been asked to stay aside, because like I said, there are some family and security concerns. They have been asked to step down their coverage until we resolve the matter with them on ethics and standards,” Shehu said.
It’s dangerous for democracy
Meanwhile, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, has described as unacceptable the directive by Buhari to bar AIT from covering his activities, saying the suppression of the media under any guise portends danger for Nigeria’s democracy.
The PDP National Publicity Secretary, Chief Olisa Metuh, in a statement, said that after carefully studying the defence posited by Buhari’s spokesperson as well as the “smokescreen statement by the APC” to cover and mitigate his anti-media posture, the PDP and indeed all lovers of democracy are persuaded that the action was not only unjustifiable, but also unconstitutional and completely against the spirit of liberty and the rule of law in a democracy.
He said: “The PDP as a party that have nurtured the nation’s democracy in the past 16 years cannot afford to fold its hands and watch the constitutional rights, media freedom and personal liberty of Nigerians, the basic tenets of democracy being demolished.
“We ask, is this the beginning of the feared erosion of the freedom and personal liberty of the media and the Nigerian citizens have been enjoying in the last 16 years under the PDP led-administration? Has our dear nation finally fallen into the clutches of totalitarianism and impunity where government actions will be based on egocentric decisions and impulses of individuals rather than the rule of law?
“While we assure the President-elect of our resolve to run a mature and responsible opposition based on issues, we are disturbed by this emerging development and reassure the Nigerian people that we will continue to stand with them on issues of democracy and freedom at all times.
“Perhaps, we need to remind Gen. Buhari that part of the challenge of his new position, even as President-elect is that he has lost his private life which is now subject to public scrutiny and media interrogation, as required of the custodian of the mandate of the Nigerian people.
“The PDP is not oblivious of the background of the President-elect especially as it relates to the freedom of the media, but we had thought that having declared to be a converted democrat, he would make himself amenable to the basic principles of democracy by following the due process of the law on any circumstance.
“Gen. Buhari may also wish to be reminded that the Nigerian constitution upon which provisions he emerged President-elect, also gave the media powers to cover activities of public office holders while at the same time providing legal avenues for redress in the event of any violation. If the right of the President-elect was in anyway violated by the AIT or any media house for that matter, he is expected to act within the law and seek redress in the courts otherwise one would have no option than to conclude that he is out for personal vendetta.
“The APC and the President-elect may have one or two lessons to pick from President Goodluck Jonathan, who though the most maligned and abused President in the history of our nation, even by the APC, allowed his actions to be sufficiently guided by humility, tolerance and the rule of law”, the PDP said.
It therefore called on Nigerians not to despair but remain steadfast and unite in resisting any anti-democratic tendencies intended to instill fear in them and set the stage for a dictatorial order and the erosion of their personal freedom and liberty as citizens, which they have been enjoying under the PDP.


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