The Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) joins press freedom groups and the media fraternity in Nigeria to reject the new guidelines for media accreditation to cover the National Assembly.
A release issued on May 20, 2019, by Emmanuel Agada, Director of Information at the National Assembly, contained new draconian accreditation requirements that could affect over one hundred media houses, a scenario the MFWA considers as amounting to censorship.
The guidelines contain about 20 conditions including a media house having a functional office in Abuja with at least five editorial staff publishing daily and on weekends. Other requirements are evidence of a daily circulation of at least 40,000 for newspapers and 5,000 daily views in the case of online media. Media organisations must also provide their certificate of incorporation and tax returns for the past two years to qualify for accreditation.
The measure has been rejected by key media stakeholders in Nigeria. The National Union of Nigerian Journalists (NUJ) say the measure is against the spirit of a free press and asked the National Assembly to withdraw the guidelines within 24 hours.
“We reject this crude abrasion of our constitutional rights to freely disseminate information. It cannot stand,” said Christopher Isiguzo, President of the National Union of Nigerian Journalists (NUJ).
The General Secretary of the National Guild of Editors, Mary Atolagbe, said “The Guild finds this vexatious, disrespectful and draconian. It is a scurrilous attempt to gag the press in a democracy and it cannot stand.”
The MFWA finds the accreditation conditions to be excessively cumbersome. By this move, the leadership of the National Assembly is treating media organisations and journalists who have been covering the House for years as unwanted guests. We therefore join the media fraternity in Nigeria in condemning the measure and urging the authorities to withdraw and negotiate new accreditation arrangements with all stakeholders.