'Where is freedom of press?': Nigeria's media fears restrictions after Twitter ban

WION Web Team
Abuja, Nigeria Published: Jun 29, 2021, 06:25 PM(IST)

A phased out Twitter? Photograph:( AFP )

Story highlights

If voted in, a new amendment will penalise and put journalists behind bars for three years under the new Nigerian Press Council Act

After the fight between social media platform, Twitter, and the government of Nigeria, media houses fear it might be their chance of coming under the hammer.

Several media organisations in Nigeria are concerned that the Nigerian government might bring in stricter rules and regulations to clamp down on freedom of media in the country.

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The concern has come as the lawmakers of the President Muhammadu Buhari’s All Progressive Congress party proposed a new amendment that would allow the government to form a code of conduct for all the locally-based media houses and journalists. Under this amendment media will be fined and prosecuted for any breaches and "fake news".

If voted in favour of, this new amendment will penalise and put journalists behind bars for three years under the new Nigerian Press Council Act.

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"It is deeply disturbing and is causing a lot of concern for us who work in the media," said Stephanie Adams, a programme officer of media freedoms at the Premium Times Centre for Investigative Journalism.

This new amendment will also give the government the freedom to choose the majority of members of the Nigerian Press Council, which journalists feel is an attack on the freedom of the press.

Also read | 'Unpatriotic': Nigeria government orders media houses to stop using Twitter

"It's an attack on the independence of the media. The board should be a composition from various media and other relevant stakeholders," Adams said.

"Not appointed by the federal government or the minister of information. There should be some form of autonomy."

This new amendment has come after Twitter was banned from Nigeria a few days after the social media platform suspended President Muhammadu Buhari’s account following an 'abusive' civil war tweet.

The leader had tweeted in relation to the 1967-70 civil war saying, "Those of us in the fields for 30 months, who went through the war, will treat them in the language they understand".

However, the government rubbished these reports and claimed banning Twitter is not a means to stop people from exercising their right to express and the decision was taken to make sure people use these platforms responsibly.

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