Nigeria: President Muhammadu Buhari Calls for Responsible Use of Press Freedom

Nigeria's President Muhammadu Buhari has called for responsible use of media freedom.

The President noted that freedom of the press is an irreducible minimum in any flourishing democracy.

"That everything is permitted does not mean that there are no rules of correctness," President Buhari said during the World Press Day on Monday.

"The media must be sensitive to what we are going through as a country, and anything that would exacerbate the situation, and further inflame passions and emotions, should be avoided," he added.

The media, he said, needs to ensure that while informing, educating, entertaining and setting agenda for public discourse, it does not encourage actions that could further hurt Nigeria's unity in diversity.

Licentious freedom, the President says, is different from freedom with responsibility, and charges the Nigerian media to embrace the latter, rather than the former.

Destruction

On his part, former Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan warned against the use of fake news as weapons of destruction and disintegration.

Mr Jonathan, who served six years as the Nigerian Head of State, said this during the World Press Day on Monday.

This comes at a time when threats of secession have increased in Nigeria. Different leaders have been accused of using conventional and social media to spur secession.

Some people from the East and West, have publicly declared secession in the face of daunting security challenges that have claimed thousands of lives across Nigeria.

Nigeria police have warned it would henceforth not tolerate information and statements that threaten the government, sovereignty and corporate existence of the nation.

Mr Jonathan's statement comes in the wake of increased cases of banditry, secession violence, terrorism and kidnapping.

The Goodluck Jonathan Foundation called on media practitioners to use information as a tool for national development.

The foundation emphasised that Africa will be better when information is used for public good and not as weapons of destruction and disintegration.

It maintained that journalists and other media professionals are partners in progress in their quest for peace and sustainable development.

Press freedom

It, however, renewed its call for press freedom, access to information and the respect of the rights of journalists and cautioned people against misusing digital communication platforms to spread fake news.

On its part, the secret police, Directorate of State Service (DSS) warned that freedom of speech does not permit the unnecessary outbursts and activities of some religious and past political leaders using the media.

Dr Peter Afunanya, the Public Relations Officer of DSS, said that people should be reminded that even though "democracy offers free speech, it does not give room to reckless pronouncements that undermine security.

He noted that a group of people had either called for forceful change of government or mass action against it. He said that the ballot box remains the vehicle of change in a democracy.

Dr Afunanya reaffirmed its support for a united country in accordance with the provisions of the constitution. He said the Service would no longer tolerate deliberate machinations by subversive and hostile groups whose agenda is to throw the country into anarchy.

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