The Nigerian Union of Journalists has reiterated its determination in ensuring that Government does not tamper with the fundamental rights of freedom of information and expression of citizens.
The National President of the Union Chris Isiguzor who spoke yesterday at the International Day for Universal Access to Information (IDUAI) 2020 said that was why he came all out to stand against the satanic anti people, draconian, hate speech bill at the national assembly and the Social media bill.
“We stood against them, we are still standing against them, we will continue to do so because any law that decides to pigeonhole Nigerians, any law or bill that decides to stop us from free expression will be completely rejected.
“The reason is not far fetched because the very unique ingredients of responsible democracy is the right of the people to freely express themselves.
“Therefore NUJ as an institution would continue to ensure that nothing undermines this our democratic journey especially looking at the activities of our political actors who don’t seem to care about what happens it.
“I want to assure us that as journalists we fought seriously to ensure that Nigeria returns to democratic Government and we will also continue to ensure that nothing happens to it.”
He then appealed to stakeholders to explore the freedom of information act especially as it is not a media act or law.
“It is a law for every Nigerian whether you are a journalist, a tomato or paper seller in the market, please take full advantage of the freedom of information act so that you can access credible information.
“Access to crediblue information will always ensure transparency, accountability and will ensure democratic Government thrives.”
He challenged Government to do what is right by dealing with those who are fond of dishing out fake news especially in the social media to avoid the dangers inherent in disseminating fake news in the system. He added.
He maintained that journalists were not involved or part of disseminating fake news. “If it is done by social actors we need efforts to ensure that those involved are severely dealt with.”
Meanwhile the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization has stated that the menace of Coronavirus pandemic in the last six months had more awareness on the importance of ensuring access to reliable and accurate information and knowledge
The representative of the Regional Director UNESCO Regional office Abuja ,Mr Salifou Abdulahi, said this on Monday at the International Day for Universal Access to Information (IDUAI) 2020 held st NCCE building Abuja.
Abdullahi harped on the importance of making information accessible through building of more inclusive, sustainable knowledge societies, trust and saving lives.
“This is the message of the international Day for Universal Access to informatmn (IDUAI), focusing on the key role that access to information plays in taking forward the Sustainabie Development Agenda.
“The international Day for Universal Access to Information was proclaimed on 15 October 2019 at the 74th UN General Assembly to be held on 28 September. “Initially the UNESCO General Conference designated the day on 28 September 2015, to raise awareness of the importance of universal access to information.
“This year, the overall theme is ‘Saving Lives, Building Trust, Bringing Hopes”, focusing on the right to information in times of crisis and on the advantages of having constitutional, statutory and policy guarantees for public access to information through and beyond the COVID19 crisis.
He observed that Universal access to information indicated that everyone has the right to seek, receive and impart knowledge.
This right he said is an integral part of the right to freedom of expression. “The media plays a vital role in informing the public about issues at interest and it relies much on the ability to seek and receive information.
informed citizens can make informed decisions, and the prerequisite of access to information is a cornerstone to pluralistic, equitable, open and inclusive knowledge societies.
He said the past six months of COViD~19 Pandemic in 2020 has shed light on the importance of ensuring access to reliable and accurate information and knowledge in the days and age of uncertainty as information itself is a matter of life and death, adding that the role of media and information literacy and open access is powerful instruments for mitigation of crises.
“In this time of evolvement in the media landscape, it has been witnessed that policy dialogue, the application of advanced technology, youth engagement, cultural diversity muitilingualism, and gender narratives and discourses are all involved.