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Journalism Cornerstone Of Democracy, Coalition says

Investigative journalism going into oblivion in Nigeria – Don — Daily  Nigerian

A coalition of Journalists and Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), has said that journalism is the cornerstone of democratic society.

The coalition said this during a peaceful march to the Ministry of Justice on Wednesday in Abuja.


It highlighted the critical role journalists play in promoting good governance and accountability.

Affirming this stance, the Executive Director of LightRay Media, Ms Ejiro Umukoro, said that journalism was essential for the positive development of democracy.

Umukoro said that journalists were partners in progress with the government, adding that their job of informing the public and relaying feedback to the government was essential for the development and deepening of democracy. 

She advised that the profession should not be criminalised with arrests, brutality and harassment.

She underscored the vital role journalists play in society, asserting that their duty is to provide information and hold governments accountable.

Mr Jide Oyekunle, Chairman of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Council of the Correspondents Chapel of the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ), condemned the growing hostility towards media practitioners.

“Journalism is not a crime; it is essential for the positive development of a democratic society. The government has a moral and legal obligation to protect these rights,” he said.

Oyekunle said that Journalists would  not abdicate the responsibility to protect and uphold the Constitution.

“Security agents and government officials trying to stifle the media will not succeed; we will continue to stand by the people and uphold our duties,” he said.

 Mojirayo Ogunlana, a lawyer and digital rights activist, who has defended journalists at both the National Courts and the ECOWAS Court,  said that there were numerous cases of harassment under the current administration.

According to Ogunlan, despite its recent amendment, Section 24 of the Cybercrimes Act continues to be misused by Nigerian security agencies in violation of the Nigerian constitution.

She said that from 2023, no less than 25 journalists had been criminalised by the police.

“Freedom of expression is guaranteed by the Nigerian Constitution and it is disproportionate for governments to arrest journalists for doing their job.

“The government should focus on tracking criminals, not opinions. Journalists’ role is to inform and empower citizens, not to be suppressed by government actions,” she said.

Ms Shirley Ewang, the Advocacy Lead at Gatefield, called for heightened awareness and action 

Ewang said that the coalition had become tired of unlawful arrests of  journalists and civil society members.

“Our speech must be safeguarded as guaranteed by the Nigerian Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.”

Ewang said that Journalists should not face unprecedented challenges, including censorship, intimidation and even violence.

The News Agency of Nigeria(NAN), reports that CSOs in the coalition included Gatefield, SERAP, CJID, Dataphyte Foundation, Femme Mag, DigiCivic Initiative, Invictus Africa, Marie Claire and LightRay Media.

To underscore the seriousness of the issue, the group also launched the ”Don’t Police My Speech” campaign, while vowing to continue its fight for the protection of journalists and the fundamental right to free expression.

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