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Lawyer, Group accuse FG of manipulating Cybercrime Act against Media

CJID lists 52 attacks on Journalists in 2022

A human rights lawyer and Right groups has condemned attempts by the Federal Government and its agencies to manipulate and suppress the media via the Cybercrime Act 2015.

Firing the first salvo, a human rights lawyer and Managing partner Law Corridor, Barr. Pelumi Olajengbesi expressed worry that the State is using cybercrime Act to police and surpress the media.

A development he describe as sad and unfortunate.

They spoke in Abuja on Saturday at the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) Correspondents’ Chapel end-of-year symposium with the title; ‘Understanding the Cybercrime Act 2015, The Media ethics perspective’.

Olajengbesi who was the guest speaker at the symposium noted that journalists as crucial stakeholders must be given space to thrive in order to play its role as enshrined by relevant sections of the constitution.

“The media is the bridge between State and Public and despite operating under a stringent media framework; they must be encouraged to contribute their quota at ensuring that the public is accurately informed,”

“When you have access to certain information, endeavor to verify it before sending such information out. By so doing, they would be helping in building a decent society”

Also speaking, Global Rights representatives, Edosa Oviawe noted that cyberspace had faced multiple challenges lately owing to government regulations.

Worried by the development, Nigeria he noted has performed badly in the press freedom index placing it second behind Ghana.

“I salute the media for holding government accountable on governance in the face of stifling of the media space, incessant attack and arrests/detention of journalists by State elements,”

In a goodwill message, Busola Ajibola, a representative of CJID noted that the country’s democracy is at risk if freedom of press is suppressed.

Ajibola who castigated the government added: “In 2022 alone, we have verified and tracked about 52 State attacks on Journalists in the country,”

According to her, any forms of aristocracy must be curtailed in the country so that democracy can survive, saying it is only a vibrant and courageous media can do it without being tagged an enemy of the State.

Ina welcome address, the Chairman, NUJ Correspondent Chapel,Abuja Chapter, Comrade Jide Oyekunle, said the NUJ would do everything within its power to ensure that journalists adhere to the rules of reporting.

He assured that members will abide by extant laws regulating and guiding the operation of the media in Nigeria.

He however regretted that the Act which was signed into law by former President Goodluck Jonathan in 2015 to tackle cyber fraud and boost the country’s digital economy has been manipulated by the political class for their selfish interest in collaboration with the security agents to undermine and suppress press freedom

“We have continued to emphasize that journalism is not a crime, journalism is not an opposition, journalism is the oxygen of democracy and for the positive change and development of any democratic society

“Nigeria Union of Journalists will be firm and resist any measure or action capable of threatening press freedom or infringing on the rights of any journalist in Nigeria, particularly Federal Capital Territory

“We will continue to uphold and protect the fundamental objectives of the directive principles of the state policy as set out in Chapter 22 of the Constitution irrespective of the intimidation, harassment, persecution, and arrest,” Oyekunle added.

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