By Lateef Ibrahim, Abuja
An Islamic human rights organization, the Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC), has called on the management of the National Assembly to withdraw its recent rules stipulating stringent accreditation conditions for media houses and journalists.
The organization made the call in a statement yesterday by its Director, Professor Ishaq Akintola.The management of the National Assembly, it will be recalled, had last week, imposed some strict rules for renewal and the need for a print media house to prove that it circulates at least 40,000 copies daily.Other new pre-requisites include; evidence that a media outfit has a certificate of incorporation, that it belongs to a professional body or bodies for media organisations, that it has proof of membership of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) backed by registration number and a code of certification from the National Library.
In its reaction yesterday, MURIC described the strict rules as the handiwork of a reactionary leadership whose failure has led to its frustration.
The statement by MURIC reads, “It is the handiwork of a reactionary leadership whose failure has led to frustration. This leadership is venting its spleen on the press.
“These new regulations cannot stand. They are draconian. We say no to the harassment, intimidation and coercion of the press. “It shows that the present NASS is in the hands of fake democrats, rebellious subjects and enemies of the Nigerian people. Freedom of the press is fundamental to the effective functioning of democracy and only dictators tamper with it.“Those new guidelines are absolute bunkum, unrealistic, ludicrous and untenable. How can they expect a newspaper to provide evidence of selling 40,000 copies daily? How many of them buy newspapers on a daily basis? “How many Nigerians buy newspapers in these days of infotech and social media. The truth is that they hate the media but they just cannot say so.
“But they are on a wild goose chase. We will not allow the muffling of the press because we know its value.
“The media is a separate arm of government. It is the fourth estate of the realm. They should learn from President Muhammadu Buhari who strictly follows a policy of noninterference with other arms of government.
“It is a manifestation of intolerance. They have something to hide. It is also symptomatic of bitter lawmakers. They are bitter because the press has boldly exposed many of the antics of the 8th NASS. “The press has exposed them as the worst NASS in the annals of Nigeria’s democratic experience”, it said.