The National leadership of Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, yesterday, took a swipe at President-elect, Major-General Muhammadu Buhari (retd), describing his banning of African Independent Television, AIT, from covering his activities, as unacceptable and totalitarian.
In a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Chief Olisa Metuh, PDP noted that as a converted democrat, Buhari should make himself amenable to the basic principles of democracy by following due process and seeking redress in court, if not comfortable with any action taken against him.
This came as All Progressives Congress, APC, overruled the President-elect, saying all accredited media organizations, including AIT, are free to cover his activities.
In a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, APC said the incoming Buhari administration will not discriminate against any media organization.
It, however, enjoined all media organizations to observe the highest level of professional standards in carrying out their duties.
The statement said: “There is a code of ethics guiding the practice of journalism in Nigeria, and this demands that journalists ensure strict adherence to the highest levels of ethics and professionalism in carrying out their duties.
“There must be repercussions within the realms of the law, for media organizations that have wantonly breached the Code of Ethics of journalism and turned themselves to partisans instead of professionals.”
PDP said APC and the President-elect may have one or two lessons to pick from President Goodluck Jonathan, who though was the most maligned and abused President in the history of the country, even by APC, allowed his actions to be sufficiently guided by humility, tolerance and the rule of law.
Metuh, in the statement said: “After carefully studying the defence posited by General Buhari’s campaign spokesperson and the smokescreen statement by APC to cover and mitigate his anti-media posture, PDP and indeed all lovers of democracy are persuaded that the action was not only unjustifiable, but also unconstitutional and completely against the spirit of liberty and the rule of law in a democracy.
“We ask, is this a beginning of the feared erosion of the freedom and personal liberty the media and Nigerian citizens have been enjoying in the last 16 years under PDP led-administration?
“Perhaps, we need to remind General Buhari that part of the challenge of his new position, even as President-elect is that he has lost his private life which is now subject to public scrutiny and media interrogation, as required of the custodian of the mandate of the Nigerian people.
“We had thought that having declared to be a converted democrat, he would make himself amenable to the basic principles of democracy by following due process of the law on any circumstance.”
However, Legal icon, Professor Itse Sagay (SAN), said: “I agree absolutely with Buhari on the issue. AIT is not fit to be a practical organization in Nigeria.
“An organization, which worships money and would sell its soul to the devil for money, and would abandon every ethics of its profession should not exist. If I were in Buhari’s position, I would be harsher.”
Afenifere leader, Chief Ayo Opadokun, described the face-off between AIT and the President-elect as unfortunate because “the media has the constitutional responsibility to inform, report and equally entertain the masses.
“I feel concerned about this development, but my simple advice is that both AIT and the President-elect should forget what transpired in the past and move on.”
President, South-East/South-South Professionals of Nigeria, SESS, Mr. Emeka Ugwu-Oju, said: “We have to take it as an overzealous act by some people around the President-elect, because he is a public figure who should be accessible to the media.
“This is a democracy and the media should have unhindered access to the President-elect. He is not a private person.”
To Mr. Tayo Oyetibo (SAN), Buhari “should tread softly and be tolerant of criticisms because PDP is presently going through a process of political annihilation, by reason of which it might not be able to provide effective opposition.
“Buhari should expect very stiff, scorching and scathing criticisms from civil society groups and activists.”
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