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Ekiti NUJ chides Senate over hate-speech bill

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Don warns against gagging media

The Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Ekiti State Chapter, has berated the Senate for the introduction of the hate-speech bill, which seeks death penalty for offenders in the country.

Chairman of NUJ in Ekiti State, Mr. Rotimi Ojomoyela, who spoke at a public lecture delivered by Rector of Federal Polytechnic, Ile-Oluji, Ondo State, Prof. Adedayo Fasakin, as part of activities for the 2019 press week of the union, said the bill, when passed, would be against the masses in the country. He, however, urged the Senate to redirect its energy to bills that would help in transforming the economy of the country and creating jobs for our teeming population of youths who are jobless.

According to him: “NUJ is against that bill because that bill will be used against the Nigerian masses. It is going to be used against opinions of the citizens and we should not forget that our constitution allows for the citizens to express their views. That bill amounts to duplicity of efforts.

“The National Assembly should be busy with things that are central to the improvement of lives of the people. It is when people do not have what to do that they go on social media but when we have employment opportunities, our people will be busy. They should create enabling environment for business to thrive instead of these inanities.”

Fasakin, who spoke on “Good Journalism: Impetus for Good Governance and National Development,” warned that the media must be given unfettered freedom to perform their constitutional role of watchdog.He said that journalists too must be ready to join hands with government through their reportage in ending the growing insecurity, corruption and other vices in the country, saying that the media have contributed in no small measure for the enthronement of good governance and nation’s development from the founding of the first newspaper, ‘Iwe Iroyin’ by Rev. Henry Townsend in Abeokuta, Ogun State.

While advising government at all levels against gagging the media, the rector urged journalists to keep to their roles in setting agenda for the government in the overall interest of the country, adding: “The media are not just nominally referred to as the Fourth Estate, this nomenclature is borne out of the humongous responsibilities expected of practitioners of journalism. Government at all levels must realise that everyone, especially the press, must be allowed to play its watchdog roles.

“However, journalists must ensure that professionalism guides their conduct and practice all of the time. In the world where proclivity for fake news is uncontrollably high and the practice of sensationalism over substance is rife, they must ensure that the principle of gate-keeping is sacrosanct.”

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Rotimi OjomoyelaSenate
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