2 July 2006

Nigeria: Bewaji Condemns Clampdown On Journalists

Lagos — Leader of the Alliance for Democracy (AD) caucus in the House of Representatives, Hon. Wumi Bewaji has condemned the recent clampdown on journalists by the Federal Government saying it is a violation of the constitutional rights of expression and their rights to hold personal opinion on any issue as guaranteed by the constitution.

Speaking with THISDAY at the weekend, Bewaji condemned the arrest and prosecution of two journalists, Mssrs. Gbenga Arulegba of the African Independent Television (AIT) and Rotimi Durojaiye of the Daily Independet newspaper arguing that clamping down on media practitioners should not be a legacy that the present democratic regime will bequeath on the nation.

The AD caucus leader said it was disheartening that government would want to drag the nation back into the era when Nigerians were denied the right to hold personal opinion on an issue.

Arguing that Nigeria is a republic and not a monarchy, the federal lawmaker said it is high time security operatives and government leaders were made to understand that under a republic, the people and their leaders are equal before the law.

He added that the republican system of government which the nation adopted in 1963 does not provide for an all-powerful ruler who does no wrong as obtained under a monarchical system.

Speaking further, Bewaji said the charges of sedition proffered against the journalists were charges rooted in the colonial era when Nigerians were treated as savages who have no right to hold personal opinion on any issue.

Bewaji, who was one of the arrow-heads of the anti-third term movement in the National Assembly, said what the government should be concerned about now is how to reconcile all the sections of the country that after the death of the third term agenda that polarised the country along various lines and not to clampdown on the media which lived up to its constitutional responsibility while the debates on the constitution amendment bill lasted.

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