IZUNWANNE, a body of senior journalists of Southeast of Nigeria origin, condemns in the strongest terms the attacks on media houses (The Nation newspaper, Television Continental (TVC), and Channels Television) in Lagos on Wednesday, October 21, 2020, as well as condemn the attacks on the lives of human beings across the nation, since the beginning of the #EndSars protest.
The group, in a statement on Thursday by its Chairman and Secretary, Abuchi Anuenyiagu and Ngwuoke Ngwuoke, respectively, expressed worry that the attacks could lead to heavy loss of jobs and financial investments at a time of severe economic headwinds in the country.
Such attacks would also constrict the media space and freedom of expression, adding, “we stand in firm solidarity with our colleagues in the media houses that have suffered these attacks, while calling for immediate stop of such evil acts.”
The group also expressed the suspicion that such evil attacks could be an attempt to muzzle the media, attack the freedom of the press and diminish the right of individuals and groups to freedom of association and the right to establish organs for free expression.
The 1999 Nigerian constitution, it observed, provides the legal cover for the functioning of the press in Nigeria.
It charges the press to play a watchdog role in the society.
Section 11, chapter 2, sub-section 22 stipulates that “the press, radio, television and other agencies of the mass media shall at all times be free to uphold the fundamental objectives contained in this chapter and uphold the responsibility and accountability of the government to the people.”
Said Izuwanne in the statement: “Divergence of views and perspectives on politics or social issues does not give anyone the right or freedom to destroy media organs or public and private properties.
“The Constitution again protects the rights to own media. Beyond the media, IZUNWANNE is visibly disturbed by the attacks on cities in southern Nigeria.
“From Lagos, the attacks have spread to Aba, Abakaliki, Enugu, Owerri, Calabar, Benin, Asaba, Port Harcourt, Orlu, etc. It has included setting fire to public infrastructure, such as police stations, Local Government Council buildings, government commercial enterprises, roads, as well as privately owned establishments such as banks, hotels, etc and breaking of prisons and other public facilities.
“We are worried about the conflagration and the violent dimension it’s now taking.”
The group called on Federal and State Government, and cities where these acts of arsons have taken place, or are taking place, to peacefully resort to dialogue with the irate youngsters and rise to government responsibilities of not allowing anarchy to reign, adding, they should at all times ensure peace, fairness, equity and unity of Nigeria in the scheme of things.
“We appeal to the restive youngsters to avoid being used by evil agents to engage in any acts of violence.
“They should maintain peace and orderliness in going about any lawful demands they’re making from governments. Please remember that wanton destruction of things and acts of criminality is not the ideal approach,” the media practitioners said.