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Published On: Wed, Mar 26th, 2014

CONFAB: Delegates Reject Move to Gag Media


LAGOS MARCH 26TH (URHOBOTODAY)-Delegates to the National Conference on Tuesday rejected proposed powers of the leadership to revoke accreditation of any media that publishes “unfair and offensive” report.
The conference also rebuffed a complaint by the President, Public Interest Lawyers League, Mr. Abdul Mahmud, against a national daily which published photos of a few delegates caught sleeping at the plenary on Monday.

Mahmud had also complained that the media misrepresented the conference when it reported that delegates requested for allowances for their aides.
According to him, a request by a delegate cannot represent the general views of the delegates.
Mahmud also requested the conference to warn the media against reporting events that could incite the public against the delegates.
But the spokesperson of the Afenifere, Mr. Yinka Odumakin, objected to the request.
He said, “There should be no attempt to gag the media. We have not been sent here to come and sleep.”
Supporting his view, the National Chairman of the Labour Party, Mr. Dan Nwanyanwu, said “We are here for a serious business. Anybody that wants to sleep can walk out. The press must report what they have seen. If you want to have a nap, don’t do it here, otherwise the press will publish it.”
President of Women Arise, Dr. Joe Okei-Odumakin, in her submission asked the conference to allot three minutes for each delegate to speak on issues.
The conference, however, rejected suggestions by a former Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Musa Elayo Abdullahi, who wanted some issues not to be discussed in the presence of the media.
The rejection followed interventions by the publisher of Thisday Newspaper, Mr. Nduka Obaigbena, and a former Chairman of the Transition Monitoring Group, Mr. Festus Okoye.
Obaigbena who led the debate for the expulsion of Order 14 Rule 7 which threatened to withdraw accreditation of any media house that publishes unfair, offensive and a wrong report of proceedings argued that media houses should be given the opportunity to correct themselves.
Okoye who said gagging the media would constitute an infraction on their constitutional role advised the conference to be transparent in its dealings.
“The only way we can do this is by allowing the press unfettered access,” he said.
Ruling, the Chairman of the conference, Justice Idris Kutigi, amended the rule to read, “The secretariat may grant approval to the representative of any media to attend the sitting of the conference.”
He added that the proviso which sought to revoke the media accreditation be expunged.
A former member of the senate, Senator Florence Ita Giwa, also moved a motion for the inclusion of voice vote in the National Conference Procedure Rules 2014 following a suggestion by a former Senate President, Adolphus Wabara.
Wabara had argued that the proviso would make decisions already reached through voice vote binding on the conference.
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