NASS Accreditation:  Editors Reject Guidelines For Media, Journalists


BY EDMOND ODOK, ABUJA – The Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE) has described as primitive, undemocratic, blatantly anti-press and anti-people the new guidelines issued by the National Assembly for the accreditation of media organisations, journalists/ correspondents covering the legislature.

According to the NGE, the so-called guidelines are not only ‘vexatious, disrespectful and draconian’, but also “a scurrilous attempt to gag the press in a democracy and it cannot stand.”

In a statement signed by its General Secretary, Mary Atolagbe, the NGE insisted that the “guidelines run contrary to the grains of reason and democratic ideals”, adding that; “they are a clear affront on the letter and spirit of the Nigerian constitution which empowers journalists to freely practice their profession without any gag, muzzling and restriction.”

The Editors also described the NASS guidelines as negating “the constitutional principle of freedom of expression and run contrary to the African Charter on fundamental rights and the right of the people to know.”

The Guild therefore rejected the guidelines in “their entirety as they serve no public good except the myopic interest of its chroniclers and purveyors.”

The statement issued on Monday further said; “The Guild is disappointed that the same 8th National Assembly which benefited immensely from free press in its moments of trial has turned round to put the same press in shackles and chains. We reject this crude abrasion of our constitutional rights to freely disseminate information. It cannot stand.”

It urged all media houses across the country “to rise up and reject this medieval intrusion into the media space in the 21st century, much more in a democracy which Nigerian media doggedly fought for and for which some journalists paid the supreme price.”

The new guidelines contained in two separate letters addressed to the chairmen of Senate and House of Representatives Press Corps by the Director of Information, Agada Emmanuel, categorised the requirements under permanent and temporary accreditation.

The letters explained that prerequisites for the coverage of National Assembly activities before the expiration of the current leadership were also aimed at reducing the number of journalists covering the legislative arm.

The guidelines include: “proof of membership of Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) with registration number, code of certification from the National Library for the media organisation, functional bureau in Abuja (staff strength not less than five editorial staff and daily circulation of 40,000 copies for the print media with evidence to support the claimed circulation figure. Media Houses must be publishing daily and on weekend (Applicable to Online Media).

Other conditions stipulated in the rejected media accreditation guidelines, expected to take effect from Tuesday, June 11 2019, are: “a media organisation wishing to be accredited for coverage of NASS activities should submit a copy of its income tax return for the last two years.”

Equally, there must be “presentation of evidence of certificate of incorporation of the media organisation, evidence of membership of professional bodies for the journalists, maintenance of a functional Bureau in Abuja (staff strength not less than 5 Editorial staff) and daily circulation of 40,000 copies for the print media with evidence to support the claimed circulation figure.”

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