The Nigerian Press Council (NPC) has denied reports that it is being used by the state to muzzle the Nigerian media. The press statement which was released on July 30, 2013 was in response to The Punch editorial entitled ‘Back to dictatorship through Press Council’
The statement clarified that since 1992 the NPC has never censored or closed any medium or served in any way that will be termed as gagging the press. It said that the council at all times has strived to work in concert with media stakeholders to uphold the integrity and quality of Nigerian press.
The NPC statement read thus: “The attention of the Nigerian Press Council has been drawn to the editorial of The Punch of Tuesday, July 30, 2013 titled ‘Back to dictatorship through Press Council’, which to say the least is a cocktail of half truths, misrepresentations of facts and in some portions outright falsehood.”
The statement explained that the NPC needs no reviving as the Council established by law, is subsisting until that law is repealed by the National Assembly or extinguished by the Judiciary. The NPC statement said: “Subsisting at the appellant level at the Court of Appeal, is an appeal over the ruling of the Federal High Court Lagos that sections of the Press Council Act were inconsistent with the constitution.”
It explained that NPAN at the time instituted the case in 1999 and not 2010 as the editorial stated and even at that, there was an overture for reconciliation with an agreement bill signed by stakeholders which included NPAN that if enacted, all will return to the oversight of a Press Council.
The statement which was signed by the Executive Secretary of NPC, Mr. Bayo Atoyebi added: “Indeed when NPAN set up its Ombudsman, its excuse was that the Press Council was ineffective while in actual fact the head of NPAN had led a boycott of its representation on the Press Council to undermine the Council.” The statement clarified that the NPAN Ombudsman has been in a stupor since the Nigeria Union of Journalists denounced it and prohibited its members from appearing before a “publishers appointed Court”.
The press release also read that the editorial alluded that the government tried to repeal the Act that created the NPC to “establish the Nigerian Press and Practice of Journalism Council at the time the late President Umaru Yaradua’s illness was the subject of fervent media investigation”. In response, the NPC said: “A little research and investigation at the National Assembly’s record of order of proceedings would have revealed that the bill was a private member initiative at the behest of journalists owed a backlog of salaries and not by the state.”
The statement said that though The Punch newspaper has the right to freely air its opinion on the matter of the NPC, it is trite to say that “fact” in journalism should remain “sacred”, “therefore dressing an editorial in any guise other than the facts serves no useful purpose to stand facts which ought to be sacred on its head to score a point.”
Click here to read the full text of the press statement.