…Approves youths’ five-point demand
…Demands safe environment for media practice
The Nigerian Guild of Editors, NGE, has condemned the hijack of the peaceful #EndSARS protest by hoodlums in many states, thereby causing destruction of lives properties.
In a communique issued at the end of the three-day Standing Committee Meeting in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital between October 29 and 31, 2020, the NGE noted that “the five-point demands of the peaceful protesters were genuine and patriotic but the hijack led to arson, looting, destruction and bestial killings of law-abiding citizens and security agents which portrayed Nigeria in a bad light.”
Signed by Mustapha Isah and Mary Atolagbe, president and general secretary of NGE respectively, the communique reads:
COMMUNIQUE OF THE STANDING COMMITTEE MEETING OF THE NIGERIAN GUILD OF EDITORS (NGE)HELD IN PORT HARCOURT, RIVERS STATE, ON29TH– 31ST OCTOBER, 2020.
The Standing Committee of the Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE) discussed the state of the Nigerian nation and the media and therefore, resolved as follow:
Having examined recent unrest across the nation in the past few weeks, the Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE) condemns the hijack of the peaceful #EndSARS protest by hoodlums in many states.
That the five-point demands of the peaceful protesters were genuine and patriotic but the hijack led to arson, looting, destruction and bestial killings of law-abiding citizens and security agents which portrayed Nigeria in a bad light.
We condemn the looting and burning of some public and private property, including police stations, which came on the heels of protests; after having taken an anarchic dimension in many states and forcing governors to declare a curfew.
The Guild also condemns the display of aggression by the government against peaceful protesters, especially at the Lekki Toll Gate in Lagos State.
Also condemnable is the attack on the media and journalists during the crisis, whereby scores of vehicles were burnt at the premises of several of them, namely Television Continental (TVC) Lagos, The Nation Newspapers in Lagos, The Chronicles in Calabar and in Lokoja where a correspondent of The Sun Newspapers was shot. Amidst the threat to its operations, some television stations had to go off air temporarily for fear of invasion by hoodlums.
The Guild wishes to remind all Nigerians that the media contributed immensely to the democracy being enjoyed in the country today and has never shied away from protecting the interest of Nigerians, even in the face of threats from some state actors.
“Given that the media is also just coming out of a distressed status caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, these unjustified attacks by hoodlums will in no small way affect the financial status of many media establishments negatively’’.
The Guild believes the government has a mandate to ensure that the media does not operate in an insecure environment and, also; Nigerians must not be seen to be engaging in acts inimical to media effectiveness in informing, educating and entertaining the public. Enough of attacks on media houses and professionals.
That in as much as the Guild respects the disciplinary mandate of the Nigerian Broadcasting Commission (NBC) over broadcasting stations’ operations, it also implores the government to always take a second look at perceived infractions by some stations before applying sanctions. Fines should be the last resort.
The Guild therefore, calls for an immediate review of the NBC Act, in view of current realities in the media world. We know the government is already working on this but, this action must be expedited in the interest of professionalism, fairness and justice.
We commend the Nigerian Government for acknowledging the demands of the peaceful #EndSARS protesters and call for a genuine commitment to implementing policies aimed at alleviating the suffering of, not only youths, but Nigerians in general.
Now that many state governments have set up panels to investigate what went amiss during the crisis, this is indeed, the time for these panels to look into real grievances of the people, especially acts of human rights violation during the crisis.
The Guild demands absolute transparency and accountability in the outcomes of the ongoing panels and would detest a cover up of those found culpable in human rights violations against Nigerians, as recorded with previous panels
The Guild urges the President to sign the new Electoral Law as Nigerians prepare for the 2023 general election.
The Guild appeals to youths to suspend any further public protest because their point had been made.
We believe the police are overstretched in the face of security challenges in the country, as manifested in the lynching of policemen by mobs, sometimes in very gruesome circumstances.
The unfortunate event of these past few weeks should propel the government to expedite action on police reforms, as promised by the President and, as the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, he should immediately restore public order.
The Nigerian Guild of Editors appreciates the government and people of Rivers State for hosting the Standing Committee Meeting while commending it for sustaining infrastructure development in the state and for delivering dividends of democracy to the people.
Mustapha Isah Mary Atolagbe
President General Secretary