IZUNWANNE, a body of senior journalists of Southeast of Nigeria origin, has condemned the attacks on media houses (The Nation newspaper, Television Continental (TVC), and Channels Television) in Lagos on Wednesday, 21 October 2020.
In a statement signed by Sir Abuchi Anueyiagu, president and Elder Ngwuoke Ngwuoke, secretary, the group said attack on the media establishments could lead to loss of jobs and financial investments.
The full statement reads:
We are worried that the attacks could lead to a massive loss of jobs and financial investments at a time of severe economic headwinds in the country.
They would also constrict the media space and freedom of expression.
We stand in firm solidarity with our colleagues in the media houses that have suffered these attacks while calling for an immediate stop of such evil acts.
IZUNWANNE expresses the suspicion that such evil attacks could be an attempt to muzzle the media, attack the freedom of the press and diminish the right of individuals and groups to freedom of association and the right to establish organs for free expression.
The 1999 Nigerian constitution provides the legal cover for the functioning of the press in Nigeria.
It charges the press to play a watchdog role in society.
Section 11, chapter 2, sub-section 22 stipulates that “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 the responsibility and accountability of the government to the people.”
Divergence of views and perspectives on politics or social issues does not give anyone the right or freedom to destroy media organs or public and private properties.
The Constitution again protects the rights to own media.
Beyond the media, IZUNWANNE is visibly disturbed by the attacks on cities in southern Nigeria.
From Lagos, the attacks have spread to Aba, Abakaliki, Enugu, Owerri, Calabar, Benin, Asaba, Port Harcourt, Orlu, etc. It has included setting fire to public infrastructures, such as police stations, Local government council buildings, government commercial enterprises, roads, as well as privately owned establishments such as banks, hotels, and breaking of prisons and other public facilities.
We are worried about the conflagration and the violent dimension it is now taking.
We call on the Federal Government, governments of the states and cities where these acts of arsons have taken place, or are taking place, to peacefully resort to dialogue with the irate youngsters and rise to government responsibilities of not allowing anarchy to reign. They should, at all times, ensure peace, fairness, equity and unity of Nigeria in the scheme of things.
We appeal to the restive youngsters to avoid being used by evil agents to engage in any act of hooliganism and willful vandalism of lives, private and public properties.
They should maintain peace and orderliness in going about any lawful demands they are making from governments. Please remember that wanton destruction of things and acts of criminality is not the ideal approach.