A Civil Society organisation, Media Initiative against Injustice, Violence and Corruption-MIIVOC, says it plans a one hundred thousand man-march in Owerri, Imo State capital against the proposed bill to gag the media in the state by the State Assembly, describing it as anti-masses.
MIIVOC Executive Director, Dr. Walter Duru disclosed this in a Statement issued in Owerri, Imo State Friday.
Duru described the state Assembly’s move as irresponsible and aimed at consolidating fraud and misrule in the state, even as he urged people of the state to resist it.
“The bill seeks to regulate the publication and distribution of newspapers and to register newspapers and news agents in Imo State. It is titled: a law to repeal and re-enact the newspaper law of eastern region of Nigeria, law number 24 of 1955 and newspaper law Edict no 3 of 1984 and other matters connected thereto.”
“The bill contradicts the provisions of the 1999 Constitution, as amended, as well as the Freedom of Information Act, 2011. It simply shows that some members of the state legislature are self-serving in their endeavours and exposes the bad intentions of the sponsors. What exactly are our leaders hiding and why do they want to gag the press at all cost. I have read through the bill and every page shows the obvious bad intention of the sponsors of the bill.”
“This development is an excellent entry point for scrutiny and public outcry over the ineptitude and wanton corruption of the present administration in the state.”
Continuing, Duru disclosed that mobilization is ongoing to shut down the state in the coming days in protest against the unpopular bill, even as he urged the leadership of the State House of Assembly to withdraw the bill in the interest of the state.
“We are mobilizing citizens against this draconian bill. The state will not believe what will happen in the coming days; members of the state Assembly will realise that they are representatives of the people and not mere self-serving individuals and stooges of the executive arm. I hold strongly and nobody can convince me to the contrary, that whoever that does not want to be discussed should stay away from public offices.”
“Imo people are hungry and there is no semblance of good governance in the state. How does this bill put food on the table of Imo people? How does it entrench transparency and accountability in governance? The focus now should be on legislation that will improve the socio-economic well-being of the people, enhance security and check corruption in the state, and not this evil ploy. The bill should be discarded in its totality. It belongs to the dust bin and should be thrown away without delay.”
Duru, who is also the Chairman, Board of Governors, Freedom of Information Coalition, Nigeria, vowed that everything necessary shall be done to stop the bill, even as he urged the Nwangele state constituents of the chief sponsor of the bill and Deputy Speaker of the state Assembly, Hon. Ugonna Ozurigbo, to commence the process of his recall, in the interest of the state, describing his action as disgraceful.
On reports of Hon. Ozurigbo’s alleged promise to withdraw the bill, Duru argued: “until a formal move is made at the floor of the State Assembly and the bill withdrawn, the action(s) will continue. Politicians cannot be trusted in this part of the world. We believed them in the past and they failed us. Nothing other than an immediate withdrawal of the Bill is acceptable.”