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Press freedom under Buhari's Administration: Campus journalists meet

By Omolola Afolabi, OAU

Student-journalists and other media practitioners converge on the Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Ile-Ife for the International Conference for Campus Journalists (ICCJ).

Isaac, the UCJ President and Gloria Adekunle, the Vice-President administration during a paid visit to the head office of TheCable, Nigeria’s independent online newspaper, at Alausa, Lagos on January 11th.

Organised by the Association of Campus Journalists, the conference with the theme: Press freedom under the Buhari Administration, dissected issues on media freedom and suppression of the right of journalists under the current democratic dispensation.

Senior Legal Adviser, Social and Economic Rights and Accountability Project,(SERAP), Joke Fekumo, cited several cases of infringement on the rights of journalists in Nigeria.

She bemoaned the National Assembly which, last year, came up with fresh guidelines on the accreditation of the coverage and reportage of its proceedings.

She alluded to Press attack tracker, a tech platform that tracks attacks on journalists in Nigeria, expressing shock on the number of causalities as revealed by the platform last year.

“According to Press Attack Tracker, at least 36 Nigerian journalists were attacked between January and July with 30 of the attacks recorded during the general elections. 

The death of a journalist who was shot dead in his residence while awaiting the results of the presidential elections was also reported,” Fekumo said while delivering her keynote address.

Fekumo said SERAP is planning to undertake the litigations for journalists whose constitutional rights were being breached by the authorities.

Online Editor, The Nation Sunday Oguntola, had a panel session with the student journalists where he gave perspectives on the trajectory of press freedom across different democratic administrations in the country.

“No government the world over has ever seen the Fourth Estate of the Realm not as major opposition and therefore tried to stifle it.’’

Nonetheless, Oguntola said only a few governments wish to enter into litigation against the media, adding that oftentimes, they lose the case.

He highlighted the importance of national security and the need for people to be wary of fake news. He urged practitioners to put into context objectivity before proceeding to publish any story as this could cause tremendous damage to the individual concerned.

Sharing his experience, Micheal Olatunbosun, a multimedia journalist with Splash FM Ibadan, said he desired to impact his generation by using the media as a platform.” 

The likes of us are still in the industry because of the plethora of work we can do such as writing, scripting, jingle, production, among others. 

He urged the young journalists to acquire more relevant skills in order to assert their relevance in the media space. 

Olatunbosun also admonished budding journalists to be painstaking enough to compile thorough reports and get their facts rights before conducting interviews.

Ibraheen Shitta, a female correspondent with TVC, lent her voice to the gender balance and inclusion in the media space. Shitta said being a female journalist doesn’t make one less a journalist. 

Regardless of gender, Shitta believes if a good job is done without leaving loopholes, the journey will be very smooth.

President, ACJ OAU, Olusola Oladare, as well as President, Union of Campus Journalists, University of Ilorin chapter Glory Chika, appreciated guests for the successful event. Oludare recalled how the body contended with funding during the planning stage. 

He was upbeat that people would begin to see the prospects in campus journalism and therefore be willing to invest in it.

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