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Nigeria; A Nation In Need Of Free Speech

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Speech

Merit, taken objectively, is ‘something earned, something owed to a person. Taken subjectively, merit is the right of a person to his earning and is of two types- condign and congruous merits. While condign merit deals with strict justice to a reward, congruous merit is not so much a right as a claim but rests upon what is suitable or fitting in a situation’.

With this words of Paul Glenn in mind, each time I am asked my opinion on the nation’s media industry in relation to free speech/freedom of expression, I usually pause to honestly look at its virtues and attributes both objectively and subjectively, and in all, one thing often stands out; the Nigerian media industry in the writer’s views neither merits nor deserves the inequitable treatments so far mated to it by the successive administrations.

The reason for this position is signposted in the fact that the vast majority of the ordinances/codes made to guide the practice has never squared up or in harmony with the moral laws. A case that has postured the right to freedom of speech as enshrined in the nation’s 1999 constitution as amended to a mere declaration of intent rather than that of reality.

Standing as telling examples are; the infamous decree 4 of 1984 and very recently, the controversial Nigerian Press Council Bill 2018 currently before the national Assembly-the senate; a bill that its emergence has further blown hot wind into the media industry and caused the practitioners to stagger in confusion and incomprehension.

Certainly, citizens of every nation whether democratic or otherwise hunger for ‘public forum or sphere where the issues of the public interests are viewed as central, and openly considered, discussed or debated. On their part, the politicians and public office holders also have a great interest in how the media covers their behavior. They depend on the media to provide the information they need about the people and the society. The media practitioners, in turn, depend much on the authorities (public office holders) for their information.

Increasingly, by choice or by accident, a number of issues daily emanate from this mutual dependency as the vast majority of public office holders are allergic to accepting their political past/mistakes while others are not disposed to having their political future discussed.

Consequently, the nation has on countless occasions witnessed this relationship snowball into a frosty one as the government attempts to unjustly moderate, control or regulate public discourse using decrees(during the military eras) and draconian legislation to impose punishments are incongruence with logic or reason.

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Fresh in our memories were the excruciating ordeal of two journalists with the Guardian Newspapers -Nduka Irabor and Tunde Thompson jailed by  a  military tribunal on the 4th of July,1984   for reports that were not lacking in merit but asymmetrically viewed  to have contravened  the same infamous decree 4.  Similarly, the recent Oyo state Government/Fresh FM saga has become to media owners/ practitioners a rocky episode of frustration and bewilderment.

Very instructive, I have no despair about the future of media practice and freedom of expression in Nigeria but the events of the past weeks has become an emblematic proof that the soul of decree 4 still pervades our national media wavelength and further revealed an unhappy truth that free speech is under attack- a state of affairs considered bad for morals.

However, just before you shed your doubt on this position; wait till you cast a glance at the synoptic litany of the recent attempts to cage the media.

First and most radical was the present administration’s unfortunate attempt to regulate the activities of Non-Governmental Organizations (NGO) in the country, which was followed in quick succession by another ill-fated attempt to censor the social media, with the ceaseless efforts by the government   culminating in the proposition of hate speech bill.

Strangely but anticipated, before the dust raised by the proposed  hate speech bill  could settle down, that of the  Nigerian Press Council Bill 2018 was up- a bill greeted with knocks and viewed by industry watchers as draconian and another attempts to take the media industry back to the dark days.

This situation is even made worse by the sudden acrimony between the Nigerian Broadcasting Corporation and some radio and television stations over their purported inability to settle sundry debts/charges to the commission; a claim which most of the embattled stations have denied.

Indeed, as someone that is sufficiently interested in seeing Nigeria turn to a zone of peace, it will in the first instance be rewarding if the pro- Nigerian Press Council Bill 2018   proves to the stakeholders the defects the bill is set out to correct and must be in total compliance with the provisions of section 22 of the nation’s constitution which states thus;

 “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.”

Accordingly, if the bill is passed into, from what Nigerians with critical interests are saying, the fundamental rights to freedom of expression, to which all Nigerians are entitled under section 39 of the constitution, will only exist in the frames without a free press.

However, whatever the true position may be, it’s crucial for all to note that media organizations must not undermine but support the fundamental needs of the country, and, the positive purpose of the elected government if it will not in any way dent/obstruct the media’s primary responsibility to the masses in a democratic society which among others includes -inculcating and reinforcing positive political, cultural, social attitudes among the citizenries. Create a mood in which people become keen to acquire skills and disciplines of developed nations.

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Again, as this brouhaha between the media organizations/practitioners’ and the government institutions continues unabated, our leaders should realize that with the advent of the social media, which has given birth to ‘citizen’s journalism,  media practice the world over has broken loose from the paralysis of conformity  and transcended  to a democratized information management age.

Aside from the above, another silent point we must not fail to remember as good governance proponents is that ‘where the media is free, the marketplace of ideas sort the irresponsible from the responsible. But a partisan press helps the politicians to flood the marketplace of ideas with junks and confuse and befuddle the people so that they could not see what their vital interest could mean.

In view of the above, free press the world over has become an organic necessity in the society that provides a platform/avenue for positive criticism, reliable, and intelligent reporting through which the government can be informed about what the people of the country are thinking and doing.

Finally, ‘whenever the people are well informed, they can be trusted with their own government, as a well-informed citizenry could govern itself and secure liberty for individuals’. Likewise, it is important to state here that for us to achieve the promised hypermodern Nation, freedom of speech/expression and a democratized media are not just enviable but eminently desirable.

By Jerome-Mario Utomi.

Utomi, a Journalist/Researcher wrote in via Jeromeutomi@yahoo.com

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Opinion

New Height For Communications Guru, Olusegun Fafore

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Olusegun Fafore
Executive Assistant New Media and Public Relations to the Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu

 

The line “Seest thou a man diligent in his business? He shall stand before Kings; he shall not stand before mean men” is a popular one.

It is also a line which Olusegun Fafore, a versatile communications professional with expertise in public affairs, issues, and crisis communications, public relations, stakeholder engagement among others can identify with.

A man of very high worth, Fafore has blazed many trails in the image industry such that there are but a few men and indeed women in the business who can stand toe-to-toe with him.

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Known for his insatiable hunger for creating narratives for brands and institutions, his footprints are still in the Corporate Affairs department of Access Bank where he was a communication strategist, Nest Oil where he held sway as Corporate Communications Manager and even Leeds University where he was a Graduate Student.

An Alumnus of Rutgers Business School and London School of Public Relations Croatia, the appointment of the Consultant-In-Chief of Reputation Plus Limited as the Executive Assistant New Media and Public Relations to the Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu is indeed a new level of achievement.

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ECOBA Lagos Present Prizes and Awards to deserving Students of Edo College

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The Lagos branch of Edo College old boys Association, ECOBA has presented nineteen prizes and awards to deserving students and teachers of Edo College, Benin City at the 2019 graduation and prize-giving ceremony of the institution.

Speaking at the graduation ceremony for one hundred and forty-three students, the chairman of the occasion, Mr. Isaac Ehiozuwa, Edo state Head of Service commended the staff of the school for maintaining the excellent standard of the school.

According to the Head of Service, who was represented by Mr. Edwin Oaikhena Edionweme, a director of administration and supplies, a lot has been done by the school authorities, but a lot still needs to be done.

He advised the staff to continue to ensure that the right discipline is inculcated in the students which would bring joy to every parent.

“We are all aware of the steps the Edo state governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki has been taking in the education sector. It is therefore good to key into the mission and vision of this administration,” he added.

The National President of ECOBA, Dr. Reuben Osahon who thanked the old boys of the school for their numerous contributions to the development of their Alma-Mata enjoined the new graduands to find the nearest branch wherever they find themselves and join the association.

“The law states that after two years of graduation from the school without being expelled you are qualified. If you have benefited from the institution, it is your responsibility to contribute your quota to the development of the school that is 82 years old,” he noted.

During the presentation of prizes and awards from the Lagos branch, the ECOBA National President gave the best mathematics SS3 student award to Efosa Illoware Eghenayamose, sponsored by Senator David Dafinone Foundation; The best English Language SS3 award sponsored by Mr. Sunday Airrue Uaboi to Odiase O. Micheal; the best SS3 Economics award sponsored by Senator David Dafinone Foundation to Elaigwu Augustine Ugbede-Ojo; The best Accounts SS3 award sponsored by Senator David Dafinone Foundation to Izekor Jefferson and the best SS3 Physics award sponsored by Engr Edward E. Iyamu to Emina Attah Emeka.

The Benin branch chairman. Barrister Peter Oibor made the presentation to the best Fine Arts SS3 award sponsored by Micheal I. Omo Osagie to Elaigwu Augustine Ugbede-Ojo; the best Agric Science SS3 award sponsored by Osazenaye Osarenkhoe to Ofuase Kikachukwu Oluwatimilehin; the best Biology SS3 award sponsored by Mrs. Hilda Gregory (AKA Edede Edo College) to Oghagbon Osasenaga; the best Geography SS3 award sponsored by Omaha Endowment Fund to Ikilo Eghosasere Evidence and the best sport person SS3 award sponsored by Uyi Akpata to Isreal Edosomwan.

Other awards presented by the ECOBA Benin branch Chairman were the best mathematics SS2 award sponsored by AVM Joe Ehigie (Rtd) to Iyase Eghosa; the best Athletics SS2 award sponsored by Madam Ofure Akpata to Egharevba Blossom; the best mathematics JS3 award sponsored by Godwin Ize-Iyamu to Agas Eseoghene David; the best English Language JS3 award sponsored by Mrs. Omokhuwe Alegeh to Aiwehoe Osayuki Gabriel; the Best French JS3 award sponsored by Amb. Vincent Okobi went to Abiodun-Mudasiru Moyosola Marcel while the Best JS1 French Class award went to JS1c and the Best teacher in Geography award sponsored by Omaha Endowment Fund went to Mr. Aghedo B.O.

Other awards presented by the representative of the Head of Service include the outstanding teacher in English to Mrs. Theresa Ehigie, the best N-power outstanding award to Evance Erhabor and the principal of the school, Mr. Samuel Ogbebor also presented the principal award to ECOBA for their contribution to the overall development of Edo College.

“The laudable contributions of ECOBA to the overall development of Edo College cannot be over-emphasized. The old boys have played key roles in activating the core values of the college, its physical environment inclusive, management is extremely grateful to the class set of 92 that built and commissioned a basketball court. By so doing, they have revived the spirit of sportsmanship amongst students,” he added. 

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IGP Must Read This: Shocking Details Of How Police Allegely Manipulated Rape Victim

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Kidnapper

A 19 year old lady simply identified as Oyindamola, was allegedly drugged and gang raped by her boyfriend and his friends at a party in the Alagbado area in Lagos state on June 30th.

 

The older sister of the victim, Mrs Afolabi, in an exclusive interview with LIB, said the victim who was a virgin, was invited to a birthday party by her boyfriend, Roy Arinze, who drugged her, took her away from the party while she was unconcious and raped her alongside two of his friends.

 

On the 30th of June, my sister Oyindamola went for a birthday party with one of her best friend called Roy Arinze. Arround 6pm, Roy invited her to a birthday party which was celebrated by one of his brothers. On getting to the party, Roy brought beer for my sister to drink  and she had never taken beer before. He begged her to drink it so she collected it from him and she drank it. After taking the alcohol, she said she doesn’t know what is happening to her. The next thing, she found herslef in Roy’s house.  Roy took her to his house. She was unconcious. When she woke up, she saw three guys packing blood. She was like what is going on here? What happened. Roy responded that he just fingered her.  She was like you just fingered me and I am seeing three guys packing blood. Roy responded that they came to her rescue.

 

She said she wants to start going home. She woke up around 9.30pm. During that period, she had switched off her phone. We have been looking for her.  They asked her to sleep over but she said no that she cannot wait that she has to go back home. They put her to a bike and she went home.

When my sister got home, she went straight to bed. She did not inform anybody. The next day, my mum went out and she called me to say she wasn’t feeling alright. She said she was feeling pains in her vagina. I asked her what happened and she told me that she went to her boyfriend’s place yesterday and that he told her that he fingered her and that since then, she hasn’t been feeling okay. I was thinking maybe normal tears, maybe the guy slept with her and disvirgined her and she had a few tears. I called a nurse who told me she can take Ampiclox and then sit on warm water.

 

Oyindamola was in so much pain that she couldn’t walk. So she wanted to go and buy the drugs which is Ampiclox. On getting to the pharmacy which was in our neighboorhood, the pharmacist saw the way she was walking and was like what happened to you Oyindamola? She responded that she is having pains all over her body and that she wants to buy drugs. The pharmacist was like you are having body pains and you want to buy Ampiclox? The pharmacist forced her to come closer to see what was happening down. She bent and opened her vagina for the pharmacist.

The pharmacist was shocked and was very suprised. She directed her to    Fumbi Medical Center hospital in our area. She went there and she was admitted. Because my mum wasn’t around and I wasn’t around as well, , she called Roy to tell him she was in the hospital.  The guy came down to the hospital. The doctor asked them to pay N38, 000 to stitch it for my sister. I think the doctor did not know it was something big.

 

Later on,  my mum got in touch with her and asked her ”where are you?’. She said she was in the hospital. When she got to the hospital, my mum was very surpised. She rushed down to the police station  on AIT Alagbado to report. She got there and at the counter, met a female police officer who accompanied her to get Roy arrested.

On getting there, they saw Roy and the doctor discussing. Roy was promising the doctor that he will pay extra N25, 000 to take care of Oyindamola as well as beg our mother on his behalf.

Roy was immediately arrested and taken to the police station. When they got there, the policemen were asking my mum to pay N5000 to open file, another N5000 for transport and another N5000.  They were just asking her for money. She was like money for what? Is it a crime for me to come and tell you that something happened to me and you can’t come to my rescue? (sic)  The police woman told my mum if she cannot pay the money, then she should forget about the case. My mum was surprised and was like why would she say such a thing? She left for home and returned with N5000 which was all she could gather. Before she returned to the police station, I think the police woman and Roy had discussed. Roy asked her to please help him beg my mum  and that he is going to settle the woman.

 

The police woman told my mum that she come so they can settle the matter because she knows she doesn’t have money. She told my mum that if they go to court, she would lose because she doesn’t have money.  She was like you don’t have money to pay N5000 for  transport. My Mum was like why would she say such a thing. She told my mum that she should provide the remaining money asked for as soon as possible otherwise she would release the suspect, Roy.

My mum did not have much with her. She rushed down to the church and called upon the brethren that they should please come to her aid. My mum and the church members visited the police station on Wednesday July 2nd. They went straight to the DPO’s office as the female police officer was not on sit. The DPO wasn’t aware of what was even happening. The DPO said he was not even aware wasn’t even in the cell.

 

He begged my mum and church members.  Some people hinted us that we should call humanright activists that they are ready to fight for us and can take up the issue. We got their number and called them that same Wednesday. We called and Mrs Fola from Ikeja spoke to us. She came on Thursday July 3rd. She met my sister in the Hospital and asked her questions. She also met with doctor. The doctor told Mrs Fola he did not see any sign of penetration and that he doesn’t understand the case and that she should just take it easy.

Mrs Fola then said no that she will not take it easy and that it must be charged to court. That Thursday, the doctor gave us a bill of N55, 000 and asked us to go and pay. My sister all through this period couldn’t urinate by herself. They had to pass a pipe through her body. Unfortuately we don’t have much, we are very rich. We didn’t have much with us. We tried to run helter skelter to raise the money. We didn’t have much because my dad has not been feeling fine for a very long time. He cannot walk. We have been spending much on my dad. This Oyinda own coming suddenly made us weak.

Before then, Roy’s family members have been coming down to the hospital, begging us that we should settle this matter because they are Igbo, we we are Yoruba (sic).  They said they will pick up the bill and that they will give  us some amount of money and that anything we want we should ask for. I personally said no because  this guy is not telling us the truth because after he injured my sister, he cleaned her blood with his clothes and white handkerchief. We even asked for the clothes he used to clean her blood but he said he had burnt it. We don’t even know what he used the blood to do.

 

The police just put him in their custody. They did not question him nor ask him We were also surprised because my sister said they were three when she openned her eyes. They left the remaining two guys. They did not interrogate them.” she said

 

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Speaking further, Mrs Afolabi said the Humanright activisit insisted that Oyinda must be examined at the Mirabel Medical center within seven days as the test will not be able to detect anything after seven days.

On Saturday July 6th, the humanrights activist came to take Oyindamola for the test but the doctor denied her access because we had not paid the hospital bill. The doctor said she cannot release Oyindamola unless the hospital bill is paid. We pleaded that she should just allow Oyindamola to go for the test and come back to the hospital. We were like we will try and go to church on Sunday and gather something. The doctor refused.  Thank God for Mrs Fola. , she spoke with the doctor who pledged to ensure Oyindamola returns to the hospital.

At the end of the day, Mrs Fola left with Oyindamola and my brother to Mirabel for the test. Me and my mum we were there at the hospital. They brought her back to the hospital. On Sunday we got to church and  we were not able to gather anything. We were just tired. Later we agreed that Roy’s family should pay the money because it is their responsibility because they are the ones that caused everything. They paid the bill and we went home.

 

On Monday  July 8th, I went to the police station to find out what is happening and they said they have not made any arrest because they have not seen any evidence. They asked me to take a sheet of paper to Mirabel to collect the result. On Tuesday July 9th, we went down to Mirabel.

 

On that Saturday when they went for the test in Mirabel, they met with one Dr who enlightened Mrs Fola that it was a gang rape. He said from what he saw, it was a gang rape. He said the result will come out in 7 days. He said they raped her through her vagina and through her anus . The doctor was so sad.

 

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According to Mrs Afolabi, on Monday July 15th, the police called for a meeting between her family and Roy’s family members. On getting to the station, Oyindamola and her mother were shocked to see Roy arrriving the police station on a motorbike. They never knew the police had released Roy. A few minutes later, the police informed them that the meeting had been postponed to the next day.  Oyindamola accused the police officer of wasting her time as she was meant to be at the Mirabel medical center for further treatment but had to cancel it because of the meeting.

 

Mrs Afolabi said that to her family’s suprise, the police officer accused Oyindamola of being rude and locked her up in the cell. She said the police threatened her mum that she will also be locked up if she isn’t careful.  She was detained in the cell till the next day July 16th.

 

In the night, the policemen were interrogating her again. They told her that when they get to court, she should tell them that she was not sleeping when Roy was having sex with her. They were collecting another statement from her again.  They did not give her food or medication.

The next day, my mummy came and they said they want to go to court because they have collected another statement. They said they were going to court that morning which was yesterday. She called me and I was surprised. I was angry because the police decided to go to court now after forcing my sister to make another statement. The police officers collected my mum’s phone so she could not be able to talk to me, forced her into a vehicle with Oyindamola and they drove to the court” she said

Mrs Afolabi said Roy was in the court and his lawyers asked the court to grant him bail.

 

The Magistrate court adjourned the case to September 26th.

 

Mrs Afolabi says all her family is demanding is justice for her sister, Oyindamola.

 

Culled: Linda Ikeji

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