Edo State has initiated the process of reforming media laws in the state, according to the governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, who announced that he has sent bills to the State House of Assembly for consideration and passage in order to abolish the laws of sedition and criminal defamation and to engender freedom of speech for media practitioners.
Governor Obaseki made the disclosure in his keynote address during the maiden Radio Nigeria, (Bronze FM) Benin City inaugural lecture and award ceremony which was held on March 3, 2022 with the theme “Deepening democracy: Role of the media”.
Represented by Mr. Andrew Emwanta, Commissioner for Communication and Orientation, the governor said a bill to abolish sedition and criminal defamation had been sent to the House of Assembly.
He said: “Last Wednesday [February 23, 2022], the Edo State Executive Council considered and approved five executive bills for onward transmission to the Assembly for legislative action. One of the bills is the Edo State Criminal Law 2022 Bill.
“Under the proposed law, the provisions on Sedition and Criminal Defamation were taken out in line with decisions of appellate courts, which align with Constitutional provisions on the right to freedom of expression and the press”.
In his remarks, Chairman of the event and the National President of the Nigeria Union of Journalists, Chris Isiguzo, charged the media to help Nigerians choose the right candidates ahead of the 2023 general elections.
He said “Without the media, there is no democracy. We normally say the judiciary is the last hope of the common man, but the current reality is that the media is now the last hope of the common man. The media must be alive to its role as we move forward to the 2023 elections.
“Virtually every state today has a presidential aspirant, but the media must bring these characters to the people and help them decide the right people.”