By Blessing Wika, Abuja
As journalists celebrate this year’s World Press Freedom Day, today, May 3, the National Assembly, has said that it would never pass any law that inhibits the freedom of the press in Nigeria.
The Senate President, Dr. Ahmad Lawan, who gave the assurance in a message of felicitation with Nigerian journalists as they joined their colleagues across the world to celebrate the event, however, urged them to purge themselves of bad eggs.
Lawan noted that May 3 is set aside every year to remind governments around the world of their obligation to facilitate and respect press freedom, and also to remind journalists the need to respect the ethics of their profession.
The Senate President, in a statement signed by his Special Adviser on Media, Ola Awoniyi, stated that he is proud that Nigeria has a vibrant media that have always resolutely defended freedom of speech.
According to him, freedom of the press enables journalists to effectively discharge their roles as the watchdog of the society and Fourth Estate of the Realm.
“I also celebrate the Nigerian journalists for the invaluable contributions and sacrifices that they have made throughout our national history to nation-building and entrenchment of democracy.
“I pay tribute to the patriots who have lost their lives in the line of duty and pray that their death will not be in vain.
“The Ninth Senate and the National Assembly in general will never pass any law that inhibits the freedom of the press but rather works with the media to further enhance the practice of the profession.
“It is in this light that I call on the practitioners to purge their noble profession of the bad eggs whose nefarious activities are denting the credibility and reputation of the mainstream practitioners.
“The leadership organs of the profession also need to adopt practical measures to check the activities of the purveyors of fake news.
“My belief is that the menace of fake news is capable of eroding the integrity and credibility of the media in general, and this should not be allowed to happen” Lawan said.
The Senate President wishes the media a happy celebration.
It would be recalled that a bill which will make it possible to sentence to death by hanging anybody convicted of spreading hate speech and another one seeking to regulate social media sparked outrage among Nigerians, especially journalists, lawyers and activists after they passed second reading at the Senate in November 2019.
While the first proposed legislation, “The Prohibition of Hate Speech Bill” was sponsored by Senator Aliyu Abdullahi (APC Niger North), the other, entitled “Protection from Internet Falsehood and Manipulation 2019” was sponsored by Senator Sani Musa (APC Niger East).