Group Makes Case For Press freedom, Condemns Arrest Of Taraba Journalist

A pro media group, Media Watch Team, has urged Nigerian politicians to respect the rights of journalists during the electioneering campaigns. The group also condemned the arrest of Mr. Samuel Ayodele, CEO of Rock FM by the police following a petition by one of the governorship candidates in Taraba state.

The group said democracy can only thrive when press freedom is guaranteed. According to the body, the biggest difference between failed governments and successful ones is their relationship with the press.

The statement reads: “Nigerian politicians must learn to respect reporters sent to cover their events or those in their entourage. Reporters are the eyes of the world and thus must be treated delicately and not to be harassed. Actions such as confiscation of cameras or security blocking reporters access must be checked. Over zealous body guards must treat reporters with courtesies. That’s the rule of engagement. Even in war, journalists are allowed to do their job.”

On the arrest of journalist Ayodele who runs a radio station in Taraba state, the group said it is unfortunate that politicians have not learnt from the past. It said, “arresting journalists is a throwback to the Draconian days of General Buhari Decree 4 that is gone with history. When General Buhari became a civilian and joined politics, he apologized to journalists for ever arresting and imprisoning their colleagues. A true democrat must learn to abide criticisms no matter how harsh or even distorted.

The best politicians can do in seeking redress is to demand a corrigendum or an apology from the medium. Media aides must also master the art of mediation between their bosses and media practitioners.”

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