The Commandant of Nigeria Security and Civil Defense Corps (NSCDC), Ogun State Command, Niyi Ajibola has assured journalists of maximum safety before, during and after the forthcoming 2023 general elections.
He stated this on Sunday in Abeokuta at the 2022 International Day to End Impunity for Crime Against Journalists organised by the Publisher of RazorTimes, Simeon Fakeye.
The themed for the programme is “2023: Safety of the Press – Before, During and After”.
Ajibola, represented by the command’s Head of Operations, Ajala Kolawole, reiterated that security personnels were not enemies to journalists, saying that the relationship between the security personnel and journalists remained cordial.
“We, as security personnel, are not enemies to the journalists because our relationship remain cordial.
“As election is approaching, try to know about the terrain you are going to work. As for us, we are always ready to give you adequate protection.
One of the panelists, Barr. Kayode Aderemi blamed journalists for allowing their attackers go scot free without prosecution.
He also charged the journalists to change tactics in dealing with any acts of assault, attack or assassination.
A member of civil society organisation, Dolapo Junaid called for adequate security for journalists and Civil Society Organisation so that they would be protected from attack.
Junaid blamed the impunity on Nigeria’s colonial Masters who intentionally and cunningly planned the country to continue in an oppressive platform.
In the same vein, veteran journalists, Dada Olanipeku expressed his dissatisfaction on how journalists have been harassed while doing their Constitutional job.
He implored journalists to desist from collecting money from politicians so that they would be freed from their threat while performing their duty.
The Chairman of the Occasion, High Chief Olakunle Olalekan appreciated the doggedness of Journalists in the society, and called for adequate protection for them by the security architecture of the state.
“I believe everyone present at this occasion will agree with me that for any democratically elected government to exist and reign in a sovereign Nation, the freedom of the Press must be upheld in high esteem. Once the freedom of the Press is being gagged, such a government will no longer be a popular one and will not be accepted by the people.
“Moreover, elections will come and go, but the scars incurred on journalists while performing their duties may remain forever.
“At various times, security agencies have made themselves hounded and unleashed by government officials to arrest and detain journalists. Frankly speaking, such a dastard act is condemnable as press freedom remains a critical part of our nation’s freedom.
The gubernatorial candidate of New Nigeria People’s Party (NNPP), Comr Olufemi Ajadi Oguntoyinbo advised the journalists to be careful in their report so that they will not be held responsible for libel or defamation of character as he promised to work closely with journalists if elected the Governor of Ogun State in the 2023 Governorship election.
“Aa I used to tell my friends who are Police and Lawyers that journalists are their lord, on a lighter mood.
“While I would urge journalists to always make sure they balance their stories according to the ethics of the profession, I am promising you that if I am elected as the Governor of Ogun State comes 2023 Governorship election, we are going to work together to move this state to a better level”.
The organizer of the programme who is the publisher of RazorTimes Magazine, Simeon FAKEYE noted that, the commemoration of the International Day to End Impunity for Crime Against Journalists started in 2013 when two journalists were killed in Mali.
FAKEYE stated that, journalists are the pillar of true democracy and, should they be silent, there is bound to be a chaotic society where anarchy reigns.
He lamented the spate of assaults, attacks and in some cases, outright assassinations of journalists been sponsored by political actors, adding that henceforth, the narrative must change, in that, whoever the perpetrator of the dastard act is must face the wrath of the law.
“The world over, attacks on journalists do happen but the level of impunity in many countries has been a serious concern to the United Nations, adding that the UN is set to end impunity which presently stands at 9 in every 10 attacks that go unpunished.
“Leaving the offenders go without punishment has enabled politicians to see attacks on journalists as a weapon to suppress the Press.
“In a situation where free press is muffled, there can’t be true democracy; free press must be encouraged such that journalists can be free to speak truth to power, and bring political office holders to accountability and transparency.
“In the last ten months in Ogun state, there has been about three or four reported cases of assault in addition to many unpublicized attacks which had met with passive or no response at all from the constituted authority in charge.
“You will remember Barrister Aderemi saying that, it is high time Journalists changed tactics in order to prevail on the political actors who are the perpetrators of the hostility to desist, for this country, our dear gateway state in particular, to enjoy a democratic society where free press thrives.
“I hereby call on all gladiators to start seeing journalists approaching them or asking for their side of the story as true friends who offer them platforms to market themselves to the whole word.
“Instead of being hostile which is one of the signs of immaturity, I would rather advise that it’s better to show appreciation and use the opportunity to clarify whatever the issues are as well say the truth”, FAKEYE urged.
Enumerating the highpoints of the discuss, the Lead Discussant, Mr ‘Wale BAKARE challenged all political actors to do a self-revamp in order to become a renewed patriot, adding that it’s by so doing they can see journalists as partners in the course of nation building.
“In oder to end Impunity for Crime Against Journalists, political actors need to revamp themselves to become true patriots.
“The nation’s judicial system should be a type that has provision to protect journalists from assault, attack and assassination.
“Civil Society Organisations should be proactive in their roles so as to put government on their toes in terms of accountability and transparency.
“Security operatives should not allow themselves to be used by the political office holders as instrument of attack, muzzling of the free press and destabilizer of democracy.
“Journalists must always abide by the ethics of the profession by publishing only the balanced stories”, Bakare concluded.
Earlier, in their separate goodwill messages, the duo of Chief Wole Shokunbi and Mrs Folake Ade-Adeniji who are former NUJ Ogun State Council Chairman and former NAWOJ Chairperson in Ogun State respectively, implored security personnel to always show courtesy in their dealings with the Press, while urging journalists to always be fair to all parties.
The highlight of the event was the conferment of Awards on firms and individuals who have proven themselves as pillars of support to journalism; Chief (Dr) Ibrahim Egungbohun (Chairman, IBD Group of Companies), Compt Bamidele Makinde (Comptroller of Customs Area Command, Ogun I), (Dr (PT) Olubamiro Abdul (Director, Department of Physiotherapy, Ogun State Hospital Management Board), Engr Tukur Mohammed Lawal (Safely and Environmentalist Engineer @BUA Cement), Mr Francis Awowole-Browne (Brands and Commercial CEO @Dangote Industries Ltd), Prince Ademola Ojolowo (External Relations Director @Dangote Cement), Comr Sunday OGINNI (State Chairman of NNPP Party), SC Hameed Bukoye Oloyede ( Ogun I CPRO), and Late Dr Oluwatosin Jiboku (Proprietor of TAIDOB COLLEGE, Abeokuta).
The Convener, Mr Simeon FAKEYE, who is the publisher of RazorTimes Magazine under the registered Company – ATOTO COMMUNICATIONS, thanked and prayed Divine favour on everyone who in one way or the other contributed to the success of the 2022 International Day to End Impunity for Crime Against Journalists.