By Grace Alegba
The Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE) on Tuesday rejected the new guidelines for accreditation of media organisations and journalists for coverage of the 9th National Assembly.
The Guild in a statement by its General Secretary, Mrs Mary Atolagbe, described the move as an infringement on press freedom, saying it was “primitive, undemocratic and blatantly anti-press and anti-people.”
The News Agency of Nigeria, (NAN) reports that the guidelines issued by the authorities of the National Assembly (NASS) is due to become effective from June 11.
“It demands among other draconian provisions that a media organisation wishing to be accredited for coverage of NASS activities should submit a copy of its income tax return for the last two years.
“Presentation of evidence of Certificate of Incorporation of the media organisation, evidence of membership of professional bodies for the journalists, maintenance of a functional Bureau in Abuja (staff strength not less than five editorial staff) and daily circulation of 40,000 copies for print media with evidence to support the claimed circulation figure,” it said.
The Guild, however, finds this vexatious, disrespectful and draconian. It is a scurrilous attempt to gag the press in a democracy and it cannot stand.
“These guidelines run contrary to the grains of reason, democratic ideals and they are a clear affront on the letter and spirit of the Nigerian constitution which empowers journalists to freely practice their profession without any gag, muzzling and restriction.
“The NASS guidelines negate the constitutional principle of freedom of expression and run contrary to the African Charter on fundamental rights and the right of the people to know.
“The Guild strongly objects to these guidelines in their entirety as they serve no public good except the myopic interest of its chroniclers and purveyors.
“The Guild is disappointed that the same 8th National Assembly which benefited immensely from free press in its moments of trial has turned around to put the same press in shackles and chains.
“We reject this crude abrasion of our constitutional rights to freely disseminate information. It cannot stand,” the Guild said.
It therefore, urged all media houses to reject the infringement on the nation’s media who fought for restoration of democracy in the nation. (NAN)