Ahead of the January commencement of Operation Python Dance lll nationwide, the Nigeria Union of Journalists, (NUJ) , has appealed to the military high command as well as soldiers involved in the exercise to endeavour to respect the rules of engagement.
National President of NUJ, Comrade Chris Isiguzo who made the appeal in his Umuahia country home during a media chat , appealed to the military hierarchy to prevail on the troops to be deployed for the special operation not to abuse the rights of citizens, and to protect “our young democracy”.
Recall that the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Abubakar Buratai, had during a press briefing in Maiduguri three days ago announced that the military would begin Operation Python Dance lll from January until February 28.
This, he explained, was to improve security and forestall any security breach before, during or after the 2019 general elections.
The NUJ boss who spoke on the heels of the hint by the COAS said that since in the wisdom of the military the special operation had become expedient, there was no need for members of the public to panic over the exercise.
He however warned against using it as a decoy to intimidate innocent people or abuse people’s fundamental human rights.
Isiguzo appealed to soldiers not to indulge in impunity or resort to clamping down on civilians or cause tension in the already charged polity.
He also pleaded with soldiers not to hinder journalists discharge their constitutional responsibilities during the period.
The NUJ President, however, advised journalists to ensure they are properly identified to avoid any unnecessary confrontation with soldiers.
On the 2019 elections, Isiguzo said journalists as critical stakeholders deserved respect from the security agencies and other stakeholders and not harassment and intimidations.
He said security operatives should see journalists as partners in progress and protect them in the course of their duties instead of becoming an impediment to them.
On fake news and hate speech, Isiguzo said the national leadership of NUJ was already collaborating with the Federal Government on how to curb the menace.
He described both as dangerous virus that poses serious threat to our national unity.
Isiguzo warned that NUJ would not take it lightly with any journalist found disseminating fake news or hate speech due to their adverse effect on the unity of the country.
He noted that the ‘cancarworm’ thrives on the social media but said efforts were on to curb it.
” We cannot allow agents of darkness to use journalists to destabilise the country “, he warned while also blaming politicians for perpetrating ‘the virus’.
On the refusal of President Muhammadu Buhari to assent to the Amended Electrol Bill as passed by the National Assembly, Isiguzo said instead of Nigerians dissipating energy on the “why or otherwise” of the President’s action, efforts should rather be concentrated on the electoral umpire to “give us a credible poll”.
He argued that “what we have on ground in the current electoral law is enough to guarantee a credible poll if INEC should live up to its responsibilities and promises”.
Isiguzo urged the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, not to “disappoint” Nigerians, warning that any attempt to rig the polls will be resisted “because Nigerians are now more aware and interested in the electoral process.”
On journalists’ emoluments, the NUJ boss frowned at the bad attitude of some employers of labour in the media industry who fail to pay journalists as and when due.
He lamented that salaries of journalists were not commensurate to their inputs, and called for an enhanced salary structure for journalists.
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