THE National Assembly has withdrawn the controversial set of guidelines it issued on Monday setting out the conditions that must be met before a media organisation would be accredited to cover the activities of the legislature.
This was made known by Ezrel Tabiowo, the Chairman of the Senate Press Corps, during a live television interview on Wednesday.
Tabiowo who phoned into the programme said he had been briefed by Agada Emmanuel, Director of Information of the National Assembly, prior to the release of the guidelines, but that he did not know the full details until he saw a copy of the document.
“By the time I walked into the office on Monday and I looked at a copy of what was presented to us, it was very very disappointing,” He said.
Tabiowo said he is the Secretary-General of the West African Parliamentary Press Corps, and as such, he understands the globally accepted guidelines for covering parliamentary activities, and that the document issued by the National Assembly authorities was “clearly a diversion from what the actual practice is”.
“However, sometime yesterday (Tuesday), I was summoned by the clerk of the National Assembly and he apologised for the embarrassment which the release of the guidelines caused, and he assured me that they were immediately suspending the guidelines, and he asked me to come up with something a lot more internationally acceptable,” Tabiowo said.
Before now, Tabiowo said the National Assembly Press Corps had a by-law that guided its activities and took care of accreditation of media houses and journalists that cover the parliament. He said the authorities knew about the existence of the by-law but never thought it wise to consult them before coming up with the new set of guidelines.
Going forward, Tabiowo, who reports for Blueprint Newspaper, said the Press Corps would come up with actual guidelines that would be presented to the National Assembly for consideration and approval.
Both the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, had denied knowledge of the new guidelines, saying it did not emanate from their respective offices.
The Nigeria Union of Journalists and the Nigeria Guild of Editors have also condemned the so-called guidelines, describing it as “satanic, draconian, anti-press freedom, anti-democratic and anti-people”.