Africa Media Development Foundation (AMDF) has observed with serious reservation the recent withdrawal of accreditation tags and the ban of twenty-five journalists representing different media organizations from covering the activities at the Aso Rock Villa – Nigeria’s presidency. The move was seen by many observers as a gross infringement on press freedom and denial of access to news and information as well as the right of people to know.
According to confirmed reports the affected journalists were told at the entrance of the villa to submit their accreditation tags without any explanation or justification on why they were banned.
AMDF views the unfortunate development as sad, unacceptable and unjustifiable, and a calculated attempt by the Nigerian presidency to neutralize the plurality of voices and diversity of views which is contrary to democratic norms and values thus, denying others the right to participation which is necessary for maintenance of an open, transparent and accountable government.
In the end, the incident only provided room for speculations and condemnations over the action which is seen as a reflection of the mindset of most African leaders who deliberately attempt to demean the role of journalists and the media who are major stakeholders in nation-building.
We, therefore, commend the bold attempt by the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) to file a suit against President Bola Tinubu at the Federal High Court in Lagos challenging the unlawful ban and withdrawal of accreditations of the 25 journalists and media organizations from covering the presidential villa and urged the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) to join the suit even though they are ones that were expected to have initiated it.
We wish to further reiterate the fact that, journalists who are major stakeholders not only in the enthronement of democracy in Nigeria but the struggle against colonial rule and fight for independence should not be relegated to the background or subjected to ridicule by politicians who are reaping what patriotic Nigerian journalists and nationalists have sown.
We, therefore, call on the NUJ to dig further into the matter with a view to unveiling the reasons behind it and engage the Presidency Media Unit in order to sensitize them on the need to respect and appreciate the role and contributions of media rather than subjecting journalists to ridicule and unnecessary provocation.
Umar Baba Kumo
Senior Researcher, Press Freedom, AMDF
Executive Director, AMDF