FORMER National Secretary of Labour Party (LP), Dr. Kayode Ajulo, has condemned in strong terms what he termed the incessant attacks on the media by the executive arm of government, saying the recent demolition of the Radio house (Fresh FM) belonging to renowned musician, Yinka Ayefele by the Oyo State government was another obvious attack on the media and an unfair act at frustrating it.
Ajulo, who recalled other past incidences, including the arrest, detention and arraignment of the Premium Times reporter, Samuel Ogundipe, by the police, the N5million fine levied against the Channels TV for refusing to be the propaganda machine of the government against National Assembly, among others, lamented that it appeared Nigeria was back to 1984 era when Decree 4 was in force and Nigerians could not voice out their opinions and beliefs.
The lawyer and popular justice campaigner said this on Thursday in a release entitled, ‘My Thoughts on the Incessant Attacks on the Media by the Executives, copy of which was made available to the Nigerian Tribune, declaring that as things stood today, the discerning amongst the citizens were very persuaded that the spate of attacks on the media was a politically calculated ploy to either manipulate, tilt or cow the media in favour of the ruling class in the imminent 2019 elections.
While noting that Journalism, as the Fourth Estate of the Realm and the society’s watchdog, had paid its dues in nation building and continues to play its assigned role in the evolution of this country, right from the time of struggle for self-government, through the dark ages of the military rule to the dawn of democracy, however lamented that the profession was going through another round of repression in the hands of crude political leaders.
According to him, “The demolition of the Radio house (Fresh FM) of the renowned musician, Yinka Ayefele is another obvious attack on the media. The Oyo State Government had claimed that the building contravened state laws, even if it did, due process was not followed. What could have been done was either to find him or withdraw his License?
“The demolition of the building is an unfair act stifled at frustrating the Media. The fact that the matter was already in court is enough to make the government apply breaks, respect the status quo and not to tamper with the building irrespective of whether there was a court injunction or not. Yet the building was demolished in a manner that tells of the reign of anarchists.”
“The discerning is very persuaded that the spate of attacks on the media is a politically calculated ploy to either manipulate, tilt or cow the Media in favour of the ruling class in the imminent 2019 elections. Other similar occurrences lend clear credence. The Channels TV was fined N5 million in the month of July 2018 for refusing to be the propaganda machine of the government against the National Assembly.
“A host of other Media platforms are going through either suspension, fine or lockdown in a democratic regime.
“As things stand, it appears we are having a repeat of the effect of Decree No 4 of 1984 where Nigerians could not voice out their opinions and beliefs,” he added.
Ajulo contended that with the way things were within the polity, journalists can no longer do their jobs without fear of arrest and incarceration, whereas they ought to be given a free hand and accorded their right as guaranteed by the Constitution of the Federal Republic.
He expressed worries that this was a deliberate fettering of the media, saying that the rate at which the attacks were happening can no longer be tolerated as it stands condemnable and strange in a democratic regime.
“We cannot afford to fold arms and watch our hard earned democracy being flagrantly desecrated by autocratic men of governments by attacking the media unjustifiably. It is condemnable and strange in a democratic regime. All well-meaning citizens must rise up against this,” Ajulo.
While further flaying what he described as the repeated reports of cases of abuse, harassment, assault, arrest and jailing of journalists in the different parts of the country, the level of which concerned citizens must markedly intervene, Ajulo warned that the business of journalism now required utmost caution.
According to him, Journalists now have to be on guard, by putting “their houses in order on a daily basis as they do not know who is next to be picked up, locked up or even incarcerated by politicians who hate to see themselves in the mirror.”
“I must in any case state that this present situation of the Media in Nigeria is a breach of the laws upholding our Constitutional Democracy,” Ajulo affirmed.