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NASS Offensive Media Accreditation Requirements

NASS Offensive Media Accreditation Requirements

NIGERIANS woke up on Monday May 20, 2019 to a new set of draconian laws for media coverage of the 9th National Assembly released by the assembly management. The rules tagged “New re-accreditation guidelines” was signed by the Director of Information at the National Assembly, Mr. Emmanuel Agada, and released to the public barely three weeks to the June 11, 2019 inauguration of the 9th National Assembly. The new guidelines comprise 20 conditions that any media organisation or its personnel wishing to cover the Assembly’s activities must meet before gaining access into the complex.

THE guidelines include, among others, evidence of incorporation of the media organisation, proof of membership of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) with registration number and the code of certification from the National Library of Nigeria. Circulation of at least 40,000 newspaper copies daily with evidence to support the claimed figure, evidence of 5,000 daily views in the case of online media and photocopies of media organisation’s tax return for at least two years, were also required. Other requirements for fresh accreditation are evidence of membership of professional bodies for media organisations, a functional bureau in Abuja with staff strength of not less than five editorial staff publishing daily and on weekend. Also, the re-certification form must be signed and endorsed by the Chief Executive Officer of the media organisation and the bureau chief, or the city editor as the case may be.

THE HOPE views these guidelines as not only offensive, upsetting, insulting and irritating to known democratic norms; but also repressive, repugnant, obnoxious and vexatious to media practice. This is because no media organisation can meet such guidelines and by implication, the issuers of those conditions are subtly trying to shut out the media, completely, from covering National Assembly activities and thus make the actions and inactions of the elected legislators in the hallowed chambers to be shrouded in secrecy.

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SECTION 22 of the 1999Constitution (as amended) which gave the media the right to operate states; “The press, radio, television, and other agencies of the mass media shall at all times be free to uphold the fundamental objectives contained in this chapter and uphold responsibility and accountability of the government to the people.” To express its displeasure over the conditions, the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) captioned the story, “NASS stings media houses: Sets stringent accreditation guidelines.” This and many other furious headlines of various newspaper reports on the issue attest to the fact that the entire Nigerian media have rejected it altogether.

EXPECTEDLY, the new conditions have drawn the ire of the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ) and the Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE). National President of NUJ, Mr. Chris Isiguzo, described the guidelines as satanic and issued  a 24-hour ultimatum to the management of the National Assembly “to rescind the satanic decision or face the wrath of the union.”Similarly, the NGE described the action of the management of NASS as “primitive, undemocratic and blatantly anti-press and anti-people.”

A statement issued by the General Secretary, of the Guild, Mary Atolagbe, said. “The Guild finds this vexatious, disrespectful and Draconian. It is a scurrilous attempt to gag the press in a democracy and it cannot stand,” The Guild called on all media houses across the nation to rise up and reject what it called “this medieval intrusion into the media space in the 21st century, much more in a democracy which Nigerian media doggedly fought for and for which some journalists paid the supreme price.”

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THE HOPE, therefore, sees this as a re-enactment, through the backdoor, of Decrees 2 and 4 of 1984 meant to gag the press in this new era when Nigeria is celebrating 20 years of unbroken civil rule. Funny enough, the leadership of the National Assembly through its Chairman and President of Senate, Bukola Saraki has come to distance itself from such guidelines. Thus, there is need for an in-house investigation to be constituted by the National Assembly and its report made public with a view to getting to the root of the matter.

THE HOPE also advises the media and their professional bodies to purge themselves of quacks and charlatans who parade themselves as journalists which they are not) and through their untoward activities give the press a bad name in the eye of the public including governmental institutions.

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NASS Offensive Media Accreditation Requirements

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