By Musa Adamu
The Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC) has condemned the Nigerian Army method’s response to alleged professional misdeeds against Daily Trust Newspapers.
The Civil Society in a press statement signed by its Executive Director, Auwal Ibrahim Musa Ibrahim described the siege on the Newspaper’s offices in Abuja and Maiduguri as ‘”unnecessary show of excessive force,” against the newspaper and its members of staff.
It said: “We wish to state that a free and proactive press is indispensable in a true democratic society and remains a veritable platform for informing and educating citizens to effectively engage issues of governance, while also holding government accountable. This is possible only by public presentation of facts, and articulation or publication of findings without fear or favour.”
It expressed its surprise that after about two decades of Nigeria’s return to democratic system, enabling instrument of democracy like freedom of press remains a difficult thing to achieve, despite the provision of Section 39(1) of the Constitution of Federal Republic of Nigeria, stipulating that “Every person shall be entitled to freedom of expression, including freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart ideas and information without interference.
“We also note that Section 39(2) grants every person the right to own, establish and operate any medium for the dissemination of information, ideas and opinions subject to laws enacted by the National Assembly.
“We are seriously disturbed by the persistent and unchecked violation of the rule of law in recent times by security agencies including unjustifiable threats against vital institutions of democracy and human rights in the country.
“We are concerned by the existing high-handed response deployed by security agencies to civil issues and their level of misconducts, creating public doubt about their readiness and credibility to sincerely conduct themselves appropriately in the 2019 general elections without fear or favour. The Armed Forces have been mandated to defend the territorial integrity of the country and constantly engaging in aggressive and intimidating civil policing is way out of its constitutional authority.
“While we believe that journalists and the media should be responsible within the rule of law and avoid acts that could undermine the peace and security of the nation, we insist that the military cannot resort to self-help and excessive show of force to intimidate civilians whenever it feels aggrieved. The laws of our land has made adequate provisions for how such should be addressed and the military should not act outside of these laws.”