THE Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) has rejected the new guidelines issued by the National Assembly which the legislative arm of government said must be met before a media house is accredited to cover legislative activities in Nigeria.
The new guideline was contained in a statement issued on Monday by the National Assembly Director of Information, Agada Emmanuel, and it would come into effect by June 11, 2019.
Speaking to The ICIR on Tuesday, President of the NUJ, Christopher Isiguzo, described the new guidelines as “satanic, draconian, anti-press freedom and anti-democratic”, and asked the leadership of the National Assembly to withdraw it in the next 24 hours.
Isiguzo said it was disheartening that the legislative arm of government which is being looked upon to enact relevant laws for the country in keeping with the principles of democracy, is now the one seeking to impede the freedom of the press.
“It is so sad that the legislature, which is, of course, a strategic arm of government in a democracy, could be the one that is now trying to gag the media,” Isiguzo said.
“We will not accept it. We have asked them to withdraw the satanic guidelines within 24 hours, after that we intend to call an emergency meeting of our Federal Working Committee and, of course, we would know the next line of action.
“But in the immediate, we reject the purported guideline as released by the National Assembly Management.”
Isiguzo said he would be on live television later in the day to discuss more on the latest development.
Similarly, the Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE), in a statement on Tuesday, also rejected the new NASS guidelines for media accreditation describing it as intended only to serve “the myopic interest of its chroniclers and purveyors”.
“The guild is disappointed that the same 8th National Assembly which benefited immensely from free press in its moments of trial has turned round to put the same press in shackles and chains. We reject this crude abrasion of our constitutional rights to freely disseminate information. It cannot stand,” the statement read.
According to the NASS guidelines released on Monday, television stations are required to present only one reporter and one cameraman for accreditation, radio stations are allowed only one reporter, while online media organisations are allowed one reporter and one photographer each. Also, those classified as “independent producers” are allowed one reporter and one cameraman each.
Media organisations to be accredited must, among other things, show evidence of membership of professional bodies, while the journalists must produce evidence of their membership of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ).
For online media houses, they must have at least 5000 viewership per day and the site must have been in operation for 5 years.
Below is the complete guidelines as released by the NASS authorities on Monday”
NEW GUIDELINES FOR THE ACCREDITATION OF MEDIA ORGANISATIONS, JOURNALISTS/ CORRESPONDENTS COVERING THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY
1.0 NUMBER OF JOURNALISTS/CORRESPONDENTS TO BE ACCREDITED FOR PRINTS, ELECTRONIC AND ONLINE MEDIA FOR SENATE AND HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES RESPECTIVELY.
1.1 Television – 1 Reporter and 1 Cameraman
1.2 Radio 1 Reporter
1.3 Independent Producers – 1 Reporter and 1 Cameraman
1.4 Online Media 1 Reporter and 1 Photographer
2.0 CLASSIFICATION OF ACCREDITATION
2.1 Permanent Accreditation
2.2 Temporary Accreditation
2.3 Foreign/international Media Houses
3.0 REQUIREMENT FOR PERMANENT ACCREDITATION OF JOURNALISTS/CORRESPONDENTS FOR PRINT, ELECTRONIC AND ONLINE MEDIA ORGANISATIONS
3.1 Evidence of certificate of incorporation of the media organisation.
3.2 Evidence of membership of professional bodies for media organization.
3.3 Proof of membership of Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) with registration number.
3.4 Code of certification from the National Library for the media organization.
3.5 Functional Bureau in Abuja (Staff Strength not less than 5 Editorial staff and daily circulation of 40,000 copies for the print media with evidence to support the claimed circulation figure.
3.6 Media Houses must be publishing daily and on weekend (Applicable to Online Media).
3.7 Re-certification form must be signed and endorsed by the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Media organization Bureau Chief, City Editor as the case may be.
3.8 The Media organization concerned must have experience of covering proceedings of the National Assembly for at least two (2) years before applying for permanent accreditation.
3.9 All media organization will submit a copy of its income tax return for the last two years.
3.10 All online media must have at least 5000 viewership per day, the site must have been in operation for 5 years and provide satisfactory evidence to this effect with clippings of the news utilized (especially parliamentary news).
3.11 Only television stations with national coverage and specific independent producers with current running programme on the National Assembly will be allowed access into the Chambers on a permanent basis (All the production crew will be accredited as an entity).
3.12 All correspondents must attach a photocopy of letter of appointment of the media organization on whose behalf request has been received for grant of accreditation.
3.13 All freelance journalist seeking permanent accreditation must show evidence of not less than 5 years coverage of the National Assembly proceedings/full editorial focus and publication on parliamentary reportage.
4.0 It is only Journalists and correspondence whose media organisations meet the above requirements for Permanent accreditation that will be entitled to carry National Assembly Identity Card/Membership of the respective Press Corp.
5.0 All other media organization who do not meet the above requirement will be captured under the Temporary accreditation status and they will not be entitled to carry National Assembly Identity Card/Membership of the Press Corp of the Senate and House of Representatives.
6.0 All Temporary accredited media houses, journalists/correspondents shall be allowed permit into the National Assembly for specific coverage not exceeding one (1) week in the first instance and not more than twice in a month.
7.0 All foreign/international media houses seeking accreditation shall abide by all the Diplomatic Protocols established by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for foreign media organizations, the Code of Ethics for Nigerian Journalists and security clearance before accreditation will be considered upon the recommendation from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
8.0 All permanently accredited journalists/correspondents shall submit a recertification letter from the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of their media organization on a sessional basis failure to which accreditation shall be withdrawn forthwith.
9.0 All accredited media organization will be considered as a single entity in the issuance of passes irrespective of their membership of Senate and House of Representatives Press Corp.
10.0 This new accreditation guidelines shall come into effect from June 11 2019.