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Nigerian media unite against Buhari govt’s quest to censor press


The government's attempt to regulate the media is only the latest in a series of failed attempts to do so.

The front banners of major newspapers in Nigeria on Monday bore a picture of an individual with a sealed mouth.

“Information Blackout,” read the caption that ran with the picture. “It’s not just against the media….it’s about society’s right to know, your right to be heard.”

The message is a joint release from the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE) and Newspaper Proprietors’ Association of Nigeria (NPAN).

It is expected to be the chyron on television stations, the jingles on radio stations and the lead graphics on online media.

This is a pushback by media organisations in the country against the Buhari government’s brazen attempt to regulate social media and censor the press through controversial media bills at the National Assembly.

The controversial bills are the Nigerian Broadcasting Commission (NBC) and the Nigerian Press Council (NPC) Act amendment bills.

The former sought lawmakers’ cooperation to include “all online media” among the media organisations the government seeks to be able to censor.

Existing censorship on broadcast stations persists, and instances, where the stations are ordered to stop the broadcast of programmes the government feels uncomfortable with, are rife. Heavy fines are imposed at will when there is an alleged breach.

The latter gives the president the right to appoint the chairman of the board of the Nigerian Press Council (NPC). It also empowers the president to appoint all other members of the board upon the recommendation of the information minister.

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