Human Rights Lawyer, Barr Monday Ubani has advocated for the repel of obnoxious laws that impedes the practice of journalism in the country.
Speaking at a forum in Lagos to mark the 30 years remembrance of late renown journalist, Dele Giwa, Ubani who is also the 2nd Vice President of Nigerian Bar Association, NBA stated that it is worrisome that Nigeria’s law system is replete with laws that prevents media practitioners from effectively performing their jobs.
Ubani specifically noted that criminal defamation which is used as a significant tool to silence the media in Nigeria and African as a whole, should be immediately reviewed.
” The continued existence of criminal defamation in our Law books deserves a second look,” he said.
Citing a recent landmark judgment where the African Court on Human and People’s Right in the case of Konate V Burkina Faso held that no journalist should face prison for defamation,Ubani said that it is worrisome that Nigerian journalist are still been charged and detained for defamation.
Ubani reiterated that it is in the best interest of the country and the Continent to promote freedom of expression, freedom of the press, safety of Journalists and to fight impunity in the system.
He said “Let us take note and this is true, when Journalists are free to ply their trade without fear of loss of their lives or loved ones, they are empowered to inform the people accurately on the issues of governance and the people are the ultimate beneficiaries. Journalists in actual fact are agents of democracy and freedom.
”We must continue to emphasize these fundamentals that Government, Politicians and everyone must see Journalists as veritable partners to secure a strong, virile and transparent society. They are partners and not enemies. Therefore their safety, security must be uppermost in the minds of the Government and the people.
“There cannot be peace, democratic development in any country so long as journalists practice their trade under the condition of fear, insecurity and corruption. We must condemn those in Government or outside the Government who promote or sponsor violence, oppression and tyranny against Journalists and media houses.
“By increasing the safety of Journalists, reinforcing the fight against impunity and raising awareness about decriminalization of defamation, the Continent will benefit in term of peace, good governance, democracy and the rule of law.
Ubani also advised journalists to ensure the best standard is maintained in doing their jobs.
“For you the Journalists by way of advice, you must resolve to support standards for professional and Journalistic excellence and editorial independence. You must also examine the role of media and Journalism in promoting peaceful co-existence and building peace and condition for democracy, economic and social development in the Continent. Whoever comes to equity must come with clean hands. Are your hands clean? Do not answer, ponder.
On the issue of who killed Dele Giwa, Ubani said: ”Dele Giwa must never die in vain, it is hoped that one day in my own lifetime, those who killed him will be brought before the Justice of the land. If they do escape, as it seems now, they will never escape the Justice of the Almighty God.”
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