The Nigerian Bar Association has condemned in strong terms the recent clampdown on some media houses in Nigeria.
NBA in a statement by its President, Mr. Okey Wali (SAN), described the clampdown on newspaper distribution as “not a language in a democracy and we do not understand what the defence spokesman, Major General Olukolade, and the presidency are saying.
“We expect a clarification from the government and this, they must do as soon as possible.
“The NBA hereby calls on President Goodluck Jonathan, to institute an inquiry into what actually happened on 6 and 7 June when it was alleged that there was a clampdown on newspaper distribution in Abuja and other parts of the country, because Nigerians need to know why such military action must take place in a democracy.”
According to the assciation, “it is in the interest of all that we get to the root of this matter, because a free press is a cardinal point of any democracy.”
Meanwhile, a civil society organisation, Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), has asked the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, Mr. Frank La Rue, to urgently issue urgent appeal and measures to stop the Jonathan government from continuing the harassment and intimidation of several media houses and newspapers in the country.
SERAP in the petition dated June 9 and signed by its Executive Director, Adetokunbo Mumuni, said it had been receiving information about threats against and harassment of independent media houses solely for exercising their right to freedom of expression and the media.
“Unless the Special Rapporteur takes action urgently, the effective enjoyment of the right to freedom of expression and media freedom will continue to be under grave threat,” it said.
The organisation said: “The seizure and censorship of major newspapers critical of government’s policies amount to undue and impermissible external interference in the operations of independent media houses. This apparently unlawful action has in turn negatively impacted on the citizens’ effective enjoyment of the right to freedom of opinion and expression.