The Chairman of Correspondents’ chapel of Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) in Oyo State, Comrade Adebayo Raji has declared that freedom of expression particularly social media must be regulated to avoid unnecessary provocation, disruption of peaceful co- existence.
Raji made this disclosure while delivering a paper during the 2023 World Press Freedom Day organised by the National Association of Seadogs (Pyrates confraternity) webinar.
Raji while speaking on the topic “Press Freedom and Nation Building: Prospects and Challenges”, explained that press freedom, which can also refers to as freedom of expression is a right that can’t be restrained or repealed by human laws but must be put into check to avoid abuse being experiencing in social media.
He however insisted that press freedom must be regulated to avoid unnecessary provocation, disruption of peaceful coexistence and other forms disunity.
Raji who remarked that the freedom of expression is guaranteed by Section 39 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended), however cautioned the citizens to know that there is no absolute freedom of expression anywhere in the world particularly, in Nigeria.
He then advised journalists to always verify and double check that the information they want to disseminate to the public is fact.
He concluded by urging media practitioners to get in touch as a kind of reaction from the person or people or organisations involved in the information we want to disseminate to get more facts or the other side of the story.
He said, “The press freedom, which we can also refers to as freedom of expression is a right that can’t be restrained or repealed by human laws, sometimes it is called natural rights, but it must be regulated to avoid unnecessary provocation, disruption of peaceful coexistence and other forms disunity.
“It is the right to express views publicly through various means of mass communications. It can be through public protest and demonstrations, or through published articles, books or leaflets; television or radio broadcasting; works of art; the internet and social media.
“The law also provides and protects the freedom to receive information from other people by being part of an audience or reading a magazine or newspaper, listening to the radio, watching television, reading information on social media and so on.
“But the way some people are operating social media in form of propaganda, misinformation and disinformation is alarming and needs to be put to check by regulation.
“The Freedom of Expression is guaranteed by Section 39 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (As Amended).
“Section 39 (1) of the 1999 Constitution, Federal Republic of Nigeria provides inter alia that “every person shall be entitled to freedom of expression, including freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart information without interference …”.
“We should also note that there is no absolute freedom of expression anywhere in the world, particularly, our dear country, call Nigeria. This will lead us to Section 37 of the 1999 Constitution, which provides that:
“The privacy of citizens, their homes, correspondence, telephone conversations and telegraphic communications is hereby guaranteed and protected.”
“At this point, what can we do not to fall victim against Section 37 of same Constitution. We need to verify and double check that the information we want to disseminate to the public is fact. We should get in touch as a kind of reaction from the person or people or organisations involved in the information we want to disseminate to get more facts or the other side of the story”.
Olufemi Adesope, Capoon, Jolly Rogers Deck, National Association of Seadogs, in his welcome address, noted that the webinar was organized as part of citizens’ summit objectives.
He added that the event was organised in order to interface with the public.
“To interface with the public and advance our core agenda on humanitarianism and public advocacy for citizens rights and improved welfare condition – targeted towards a just society built on strong institutions, peace and responsible governance.
“The WORLD PRESS FREEDOM DAY is part of the United Nations International Day that the association embraces and support; we promote these international days in order to raise concern, mobilise political will and resources to address global problems, and to celebrate and reinforce the achievements of humanity. The NAS-PC has identified with these days as powerful advocacy tool. Therefore, celebration of the World Press Freedom Day cannot in anyway be an exemption.
“Year 2023 marks the 30th anniversary of World Press Freedom Day. Three decades have passed since it was proclaimed at the floor of the UN General Assembly in 1993. We have seen substantial progress towards achieving a free press and freedom of expression around the world. The proliferation of independent media in many countries and the rise of digital technologies, most significantly is the social media, have enabled the free flow of information. However, media freedom, safety of journalists and freedom of expression are increasingly under attack, which impacts the fulfillment of other human rights”.