By: MATTHEW UKACHUNWA, Lagos
Chief Wole Olanipekun, an expert in law, has called for the amendment of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (FRN) to specifically provide for the independence of the mass media.
He said that he is not satisfied with the combined provisions of Sections 22 and 39 (1) of Nigeria’s constitution which state that the Press, etc, shall at all times be free to uphold the fundamental objective contained in the constitution.
“I do not belong to the school of thought that believes that the combined provisions of these two sections suffice for Press freedom.
“The first, Section 22 is under chapter II of the Constitution, which spells out the Fundamental Objectives and Directive Principles of State Policy, which in turn, are non-justiciable sections of the constitution, while Section 39 is very omnibus, not tangible and, in fact, signifies nothing,” Olanipekun, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), said.
He called for the Freedom of the Press in Nigeria so that the country will make tangible progress in its quest for democratic stability.
The SAN explained that the Press Freedom he advocated has to be in diverse areas, “including but not limited to freedom from censorship by either the government, its operatives and proprietors, of individual media outfits; freedom from fear or intimidation or oppression or punishment arising from genuine, brilliant and well-grounded publications.
Other freedoms advocated by the legal specialist include freedom from religious, ethnic, political and partisan bigoted inclinations; freedom from hatred of persons, personalities, institutions, freedom from poverty, etc.
He declared: “A journalist or pressman who is not gainfully employed, or who is under what economists call ‘disguised unemployment’ or who receives peanuts or nothing for his services to his employers cannot make any meaningful contribution to either the 2019 general elections or the evolution of our democracy.”