Editors demand financial intervention for media; want rape treated as Special Offence
The Nigerian Guild of Editors, NGE, has made a passionate appeal to the Federal Government to release funds for media houses now hamstrung by the harsh effects of covid-19 pandemic and its attendant lockdown.
This was part of the communique issued at the Standing Committee Meeting of the Guild held on Thursday, June 4, 2020, at Editors’ House, Ikeja, Lagos State via Zoom.
The editors emphasized the urgent and very compelling need for Government intervention to save the media from total collapse. The Guild specifically recommended the injection of funds by the Federal Government not only to help keep media jobs but also to ensure continued existence and operations of the various media houses be they print, electronic or new media.
The Guild noted that using public funds to finance private sector operations to save them from bankruptcy and total eclipse is not new and has been adopted in other jurisdictions. It cited the case of the United States government which used public funds to save the US automobile industry, the banking sector and others from insolvency during the financial crisis of 2008 and currently the media in the 2020 $2 trillion bailout for companies amid the Covid-19 scourge.
The Guild made the request for Federal government financial intervention on the ground that media services are regarded as “essential services” hence deserve to be so treated like other essential services that played key roles on the frontline in the fight against Covid-19.
The NGE averred that government intervention at this point is imperative to ensure that the media continues to discharge its constitutional duty, stressing that the survival of the media is sine qua non for the survival of democracy.
It supported the position of Broadcasting Organisations of Nigeria (BON) and Newspaper Proprietors Association of Nigeria (NPAN), both of which had made strong appeal to the Federal Government for financial intervention.
The Guild frowned at the sudden spike in gender-based violence especially rape and called on law-enforcement agencies, operators of the criminal justice system and other relevant bodies to see gender-based violence as special offences deserving of special attention including expedited investigations and judicial process.
It urged the Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, to set up a Special Investigation and Prosecution Team, trained and primed, to deal with gender-based issues.
The Guild noted that the police play a major role in the course of investigation and prosecution of gender-based violence; therefore, “the police should be seen to be helpful and empathetic, not bullish and frustrative.”
The Nigerian editors expressed dismay at stigmatization of victims of rape and allied crimes and urged parents and guardians not to succumb to intimidation and societal scorn but to boldly speak out against such violence.
The body of editors noted that the Covid-19 pandemic has exposed the poor state of infrastructure in the nation’s health sector and urged governments at all levels to apply the lessons learnt from the pandemic to fix the nation’s healthcare delivery system.
It condemned the penchant of some Governors to become judges in their own case by arbitrarily harassing, assaulting and in some cases detaining journalists in their states. The Guild described such predilection to impunity as unconstitutional, violation of individual rights and threat to the practice of journalism and freedom of speech.
The Communique was signed by Mr. Mustapha Isah and Mrs.Mary Atolagbe, President and General Secretary of the Guild respectively.