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Nigerian Media Unite Against Buhari Govt’s Quest to Censor Press



Premium Times

The front banners of major newspapers in Nigeria on Monday bore a picture of an individual with a sealed mouth.

“Information Blackout,” read the caption that ran with the picture. “It’s not just against the media….it’s about society’s right to know, your right to be heard.”

The message is a joint release from the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE) and Newspaper Proprietors’ Association of Nigeria (NPAN).

It is expected to be the chyron on television stations, the jingles on radio stations and the lead graphics on online media.

This is a pushback by media organisations in the country against the Buhari government’s brazen attempt to regulate social media and censor the press through controversial media bills at the National Assembly.

The controversial bills are the Nigerian Broadcasting Commission (NBC) and the Nigerian Press Council (NPC) Act amendment bills.

The former sought lawmakers’ cooperation to include “all online media” among the media organisations the government seeks to be able to censor.

Existing censorship on broadcast stations persists, and instances, where the stations are ordered to stop the broadcast of programmes the government feels uncomfortable with, are rife. Heavy fines are imposed at will when there is an alleged breach.

The latter gives the president the right to appoint the chairman of the board of the Nigerian Press Council (NPC). It also empowers the president to appoint all other members of the board upon the recommendation of the information minister.

“I stand resolutely by the NUJ, NGE and NPAN in its campaign against information blackout as represented by the NPC and NBC (Media) Act amendment Bills,” a former vice president, Atiku Abubakar, wrote on Facebook Monday evening. “Freedom of the press and access to information is the oxygen of democracy and must never be compromised.”

Attempts At Stifling Free Speech

Since coming to office, the Buhari administration has made clear its preference for controlling, or possibly, silencing the media. Mr Mohammed, a lawyer and former spokesperson for the ruling All Progressives Congress, has led the effort to actualise that mandate.

Mr Buhari ran a repressive military dictatorship in the early 1980s and his government jailed journalists and critics, and enacted draconian anti-press decrees.

As a candidate seeking to return a civilian president, Mr Buhari claimed he had become a “reformed democrat”.

His government’s initial attempts to regulate social media through a bill at the National Assembly fell flat largely due to public backlash. The government has now clawed back its resolve through the newly introduced controversial media bills.

Mr Mohammed says it is the practice across the world. However, PREMIUM TIMES has shown his narrative is flawed as most of the countries Nigeria seeks to emulate are ranked poorly in the press freedom and on the human development index.

In June, the government banned Twitter after the social media platform deleted President Buhari’s post, and threatened to prosecute Nigerians who continued with its use. The administration has refused to reverse the decision despite public backlash and international condemnations. It, however, later admitted it lacked the legal backing to go after Twitter users.

Rights groups and activists have criticised the government’s move to regulate the media and have demanded greater transparency in government.

“The National Assembly should not enact any law that will deny press freedom,” the executive director of the International Press Centre, Lanre Arogundade, told PREMIUM TIMES in June.

“The public should know that an assault on the media is an assault on them. It’s not a media battle alone, it is for everyone,” Mr Arogundade added.

A coalition of civil society organisations including Amnesty International and the Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD) also lashed at the bills in a recent statement.

“The Nigerian authorities have continued to propose laws to regulate the social media, and restrict the rights to freedom of expression, access to information, and media freedom, including through legislative bills popularly known as the ‘Hate Speech Bill’ and ‘The Social Media Bill’ which both provide severe punitive sanctions such as the death penalty in some cases, for social media users convicted of ‘crimes’ provided under them.”

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Senegal Records First African Win at Qatar 2022 World Cup



Senegal have become the first African country to win a game in the ongoing World Cup after a 3-1 win over the host nation, Qatar, on Friday.

With Senegal’s win, the hope of the host nation appears to be hanging, as their qualification to the next round is becoming really slim.

Goals from Boulaye Dia, Famara Diedhiou and Bamba Dieng were enough to beat Qatar, who will be eliminated if Group A leaders, The Netherlands, avoid defeat to Ecuador later on Friday.

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Unlawful Imprisonment: Kanu Sues NIA DG, Demands N20bn



The leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, Nnamdi Kanu, has sued the Director General of the National Intelligence Agency, Ahmed Abubakar, for imprisoning him (Kanu) in Kenya for eight days, before his extradition to Nigeria.

The special counsel to the IPOB leader, Alloy Ejimakor, disclosed this on Wednesday morning, via his Twitter handle, were he posted a pictures containing the suit filed, where he described Kanu’s detention in Kenya as “false imprisonment.”

Ejimakor said the suit was prompted by new evidence gathered implicating the DG beyond the “infamous extraordinary rendition.”

Ejimakor said, “Yesterday (Wednesday) I filed a suit against Ahmed Abubakar, the DG of National Intelligence Agency (NIA) for his eight days ‘false imprisonment’ of Mazi Nnamdi Kanu in discovered evidence that implicated the DG/NIA beyond the infamous extraordinary rendition.”

According to the suit, the court gave Abubakar 14 days to appear or be represented in court, adding that failure to show up would mean that judgment would be given in the DG’s absence.

The suit filed in the High Court of Abia State reads in part, “You are hereby commanded that within 14 days after the service of this Writ on you inclusive of the day of such service, you do cause an appearance to be entered for you in the Umuahia Judicial Division of the High Court in Abia State in an action at this suit of Mazi Nnnamdi Kanu….and take notice that in default of your so doing, the claimant may proceed therein and judgment may be given in your absence.

“The claimant’s claim is for (i) A declaration of this Honorable Court that the defendant’s arrest of the claimant and his imprisonment of the claimant at said location in Nairobi, Kenya amounted to false arrest and false imprisonment.

“(ii) A declaration that the defendant acted in bad faith and/or abused his public office in falsely imprisoning the claimant at the said location in Kenya. (iii) An order of this Honorable Court directing the defendant to pay the claimant the sum of N20,000,000,000.00 (Twenty Billion Naira only) being general and exemplary damages…”

This comes just few days after Kanu’s N20bn suit against the Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami was thrown out by the Federal High Court in Abuja.

The Punch

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The Story Behind Peter Obi’s Grounded Plane in Lagos



There was a mild drama at the Lagos airport on Wednesday when supporters of the presidential candidate of the Labour Party and some party chieftains were prevented from boarding a campaign plane for their rally in Ibadan, Oyo State capital.

The Deputy Director-General and Campaign Manager for LP Presidential Campaign Organisation, Oseloka Obaze, was the first to raise the alarm following a report that the plane had been grounded.

The former Nigerian diplomat took to his verified Twitter handle on Wednesday to tweet that the ‘Obi-dent aircraft’ was grounded by the ‘powers that be,’ citing “regulatory reasons.”

When contacted, the National Chairman of the party, Julius Abure, confirmed the report.

He said, “We have just finished our rally in Ibadan. It is true that the plane meant to convey our NWC and NEC members for campaign was grounded by the powers that be. But we were not deterred by the plane that was grounded.

“This is what we have been saying about this country. It is not the first time it is happening. They have been using every opportunity to ensure we don’t get to do anything in this country.”

Also, the Head of Media for Obi-Datti Presidential Campaign Organisation, Diran Onifade, released a statement to express the PCC’s displeasure at the turn of event.

However, in their response, the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority denied the allegations and explained that the plane belonged to a scheduled operator.

It said, “The so-called grounded plane belongs to a scheduled operator i.e. normal commercial flight. The flight crew of the said aircraft returned to the base on their own to check on an issue that developed soon after it took off.  This is the normal and right thing to do. What they did is what we termed safety precautionary flight measures. NCAA was not involved in this decision.”

Meanwhile, Obi promised citizens that he would not build on tribalism and religion if elected in 2023 and assured them of his plan to secure the country and unite its citizenry.

The Punch

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