Trade Union Congress(TUC) of Nigeria has condemned in strong terms the alleged clampdown on the media by the military high command, stressing that the attack on the fourth estate of the realm since Friday, June 6 and Saturday, June 7 is unwarranted, condemnable and shameful.
In a statement signed by President and Secretary of the union, Comrade Bobboi Kaigama and Musa Lawal, respectively, the union demanded that the assault be checked immediately.
“Why should the military attempt to disrupt newspaper distribution in some parts of the country? Why should the vehicles, their drivers and other staff accompanying the circulation vans be unlawfully detained for hours and their wares (newspapers) seized under the guise that there was intelligence report that some of the delivery vans might be used for transporting “materials with grave security implications?
“There are many reasons why the military must desist from this unwholesome behaviour, but Congress will herein restrict itself to just a few. First, it is not news that we are facing serious security challenges which have even attracted world sympathy and make free flow of relevant information and updates thereon absolutely necessary. Apart from the daily waste of lives and property amounting to billions of Naira, over 250 young Nigerian girls are still in the claws of the Boko Haram sect.
“Secondly, the military clampdown threatens to hamper efforts by the media to monitor some of the projects that are supposedly being carried out by government at all levels. Should the work of the media be thus hindered, how shall Nigerians get relevant information as would guide their assessment of candidates to vote for at the forthcoming elections? How do we distinguish between the do-wells and the no-do-wells, or between those with positive pedigree and the charlatans? Indeed how shall the people keep informed about the day-to-day political, economic and social activities? The recent move definitely constitutes an affront on the saying that “free press is the conscience of a nation and a practical means of achieving good government, ” the TUC said.
The union noted that it takes solace in the knowledge that no weapon fashioned against the media by the military or anyone else shall prosper.
“The media was a major player in the struggles that culminated in the enthronement of the democratic rule that all Nigerians enjoy today. The media survived draconian legislations like Decrees 2 and 4 of 1984 and the jackboots of military dictatorship. It will yet survive and outlive the current siege and attempts to muzzle its voice. And the Trade Union Congress of Nigeria celebrates this truth and stands shoulder to shoulder with the media on it”, the union said.