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Journalists still being gagged 25 years after press freedom declaration’

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A lecturer at the University of Benin, Prof. Marcel Okhakhun has declared that journalists are still being gagged, 25 years after a declaration of press freedom.

The don spoke at the weekend in Benin City, at a lecture organised by the state chapter of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) to mark the 2018 World Press Freedom Day.

Okhakhun, who is a Professor of Media Arts/Communication, spoke on: “Keeping power in check: The role of the media and rule of law.”

He charged media practitioners to do their job as clean as possible, irrespective of harassment and intimidation.
  
Okhakhun lamented that political interests, ownership and self-censorship have remained a challenge for the media in Nigeria.
  
He urged journalists in their reportage to always distil fake news, which abound in the social media.

He added that this has become necessary due to the activities of the promoters of ‘citizen journalism,’ who do the job of journalists without the requisite qualifications and training.
  
The don challenged the media to put the interest of the public ahead of their personal interests and the desire of feudal leaders in government.

He also cited the autocratic authorities that often hide the fact about their activities from the public spotlight.
 
According to him: “If from 1735 in the United States of America (USA) till 2018, the press is still gagged, it means that we have problems in our hands that require solution.

“What the government puts out has not only been scanty, but also heavy loads of what it is not. Unfortunately, some journalists write reports because of what is in it for them, rather than in public interest.

He said journalists often curtail the freedom of the press by engaging in self-censorship, and distortion of facts, especially during the coverage of elections.

The former Chairman of the NUJ in the defunct Bendel State, Dele Ailemen and a veteran journalist, Godwin Erhahon, lamented that the ruling class regularly attempt to muzzle press freedom.


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