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Attacks On The Media In August 2001

Security Agents Haunts Champion Reporter

Men of the State security Services (SSS), on Wednesday, August 8, visited the office of The Champion Newspapers, Abeokuta, in search of its correspondent in the state, Mr. Kola Adejobi in connection with an investigative story he wrote. The story was published in the Sunday edition of the newspaper.


The securitymen, who called at the last floor of the building which also houses prominent newspapers at 10.30 a.m., demanded the whereabouts of Adepoju from his circulation officer, Mr. Isiaka Aliu, who  informed them that he had gone on an official assignment.


Editors Raise Alarm Over  Continued Threats

Editors of Insider Communications Limited, publishers of Insider Weekly newsmagazine raised alarm over continued threats to their lives and business.


In a two-page statement signed by the magazine's Managing Editor, Obiora Chukwumba, they allege that security agents of the state were relentlessly on the trail of key directors of Insider Communications for reportedly stepping on powerful toes with their news stories. It noted that the security chiefs are accusing them of constituting themselves into opposition, practicing a reckless brand of journalism, and at a point even declaring that the magazine's editors constitute a threat to national security and could be dealt with. The editors see that statement as "akin to pronouncing a death sentence on an individual."


The statement said further that in addition to threat calls to its editors in Lagos, its editors in Abuja, Kaduna, and Kano had been trailed by "persons suspected to be agents of the state security in Abuja."


It drew attention to a meeting between the security chief and editors of some major newspapers and magazines which it claimed held in Abuja and at which the security operatives branded its editors as being reckless. The statement recalled a similar meeting held shortly before the pioneering editor-in-chief of Newswatch magazine, Dele Giwa was killed by a parcel bomb.


It stated, "We are constrained to draw a parallel with this because our security officials appear endlessly equipped to take lives." It added that in May, men of the State Security Service (SSS) made repeated visit to their corporate office in Lagos asking their editors to report at the Department of State security (DSS) Shangisha on the outskirts of Lagos for undisclosed reasons.


The magazine viewed the whole episode as an indication of a nation on a "drift to the dark days of dictatorship" and a calculated attempt to gag the press. It called on Nigerians to hold government accountable should anything untoward happens to any of its editors or directors.


Workers Threaten to Shut Down Radio Over Welfare

Workers of the Bayelsa State Radio, Radio Bayelsa have threatened to embark on a strike action and shut down the radio station for the alleged maltreatment of its workers.


Chairperson of the Radio, Television and Theatre Workers' Union (RATAWU) of Bayelsa owned radio station, Glory FM, Miss Helen Aggrey alerted the Culture and Information Commissioner of the proposed strike action.


Reports indicated that workers of the media house have on several occasions expressed their dissatisfaction with the way and manner in which the Director General of the corporation, Mr. Comish Ekiye was handling staff welfare.


Some of the workers demanded the sack of the DG


APCON Bans Tobacco Adverts

In a subtle attempt to censure the media, the Advertising Practioners Council of Nigeria (APCON) the advertisers regulatory body in Nigeria banned the advertisement and promotion of tobacco products on television, home video and billboards with effect from January 1, 2002.


APCON Chairman, Chief Olu Falomo who announced this decision in Abuja the Federal capital Territory early August (11 or 12) at a news conference added that no pitch panel display of tobacco products (brand or pack) would be allowed in sporting arenas or stadia.


Advertisement of tobacco in newspapers and magazines would be restricted to inside covers and run-off pages and would no longer be allowed to go on their outside covers and would no longer be in colour while no tobacco advertisement would be carried in publications targeted at sporting events according to Chief Falomo.


Chief Falomo said APCON would continue to liaise with government agencies and ministries to secure their cooperation in enforcing the council's Act.


Religious Sect Threatens The Press

The Brotherhood of the Cross and Star (BCS) led by Olumba Olumba Obu (OOO) which had been enmeshed in crises since January 2001 has issued a caveat stating that any press statement, press release, announcement and publication purporting to originate from the headquarters of the group must be with clearance from Obu or his son, Roland, whom he has crowned his successor, a move that has resulted in discord in the group.

The 'decree' states that, "Any statements that purport to originate from the BCS world headquarters, the father's vestry or the leader's office must henceforth be accompanied with a written clearance properly designated and signified by the father's thumbprint with the proper jurat witnessed by the father's attorney or in the case of clearance from the chairman of the BCS Executive Council, by his usual and known signature, now hereunder affixed beside the father's thumbprint."

The statement warned that any mass media that fail, refuse and/or neglect to get the said clearance and goes ahead to broadcast or print any statement, release or purporting to originate from the BCS world headquarters was courting a law suit. Such, the statement demands, should first be cross checked and clearance received in writing and under the hand and signature of OOO before publication.


Governor Accuses Journalist of Bias

Governor Boni Haruna of Adamawa State on August 17 accused journalists on national media tour of being rented to discredit his government. He told the journalists and the Minister of Information and National Orientation, Prof. Jerry Gana, when they visited his office at the government house in Yola, that he was aware that some of the newsmen were in the state to concoct damaging stories about his government.


According to him, "We are not unaware that some of you may have been rented to come and write adverse reports that don't reflect the substance or the issues on the ground. To this kind of people, I want to suggest that you search your conscience because for the past two weeks, there have been unwarranted attacks on this government."


But at the forum to mark the end of the tour later the same day also in government house, Governor Haruna in apparent retraction of his accusation said his indictment was targeted at journalists who had earlier been hired to distort the situation in the State who came to the state earlier than the team with the Minister of Information.


Governor Accuses Section of The Media of Bias

Governor Ahmed Makarfi of Kaduna State on August 17 or 18 accused media operating from the southern States of Nigeria of unfair treatment of the North. Speaking at the first annual lecture of the Nigeria Union of Journalists Kaduna Council added that the southern press had in recent times tended to misinterpret the North in all its reportage.


He also accused the same section of the press of orchestrated media campaign against the North both after the annulment of the June 12 elections and during this present administration. He said the Southern press blamed the annulment of June 12 election entirely on the North which voted massively for both the late Chief M. K. O. Abiola and President  Olusegun  Obasanjo.


Court Bars Journalists From Proceedings

Justice Abdulahi Oyekan of a Lagos High Court on August 23 ordered newsmen out of her court saying she did not want 'a sensation' out of a case of alleged abduction. It was at the hearing of a case involving the leader of a religious sect, Mrs. Lufunlayo Famowopo, alias Queen of Glory, founder of Glory Ministries along with three others on charges of abduction of three minors.


Justice Oyekan said, "I did not invite the press, gentlemen respect yourselves. We have to consider the future of the children involved in the case."


She insisted that only the parties involved should be allowed into the courtroom.








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