Mr Christopher Isiguzo, President, Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), on Thursday appealed to the Nigeria Police to protect Journalists as they carry out their legitimate duties across the country.
Isiguzo, in a remark at a Forum for the Adoption of Framework on Police Media-Relationship and Safety of Journalists in Abuja, said that the safety of journalists was crucial to national growth in view of their role as watchdogs of the society.
The event was put together by NUJ in collaboration with Media Foundation for West Africa and other partners.
Isiguzo said that Nigeria should not toy with its newsmen because they were the light, conscience and watchdog of the society.
He emphasised the need for journalists and Police to work together, and regretted that the role of the newsmen as the oxygen of democracy was under severe threat.
“The Police and journalists should be partners in progress; we journalists don’t have guns; we are not criminals or terrorists.
“I call on the Police to protect journalists; they should see us as partners in progress for positive change. I want to call on you to accept us as friends and partners.
“When you see us out there, accept us as friends of the state and nation builders. We are very much ready at all times to ensure we engage in issues that will take the nation to the next positive level,” Isiguzo said.
Similarly, Mr Sulemana Braimah, the Executive Secretary, Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA), in his speech, said that the relationship between the media and the Police was a crucial one.
“A journalist will often need information, protection and authentication of information from the Police and the Police sometimes rely on information of incidences in the country from the journalists.
“The Police also rely on journalists to get pieces of evidence to back their investigations.
“But, unfortunately, this relationship sometimes tends to be sour and is a sad thing to say that across West Africa, the Police usually tend to be the aggressors.
“Sometimes, it is not because the Police don’t like the journalists, but some journalists don’t know how to handle themselves, particularly when they are in public places.
“We have seen where journalists go to war front in Syria, Yemen and bring footage, I believe they follow certain procedures; so, sometimes it is not that Police officers are rude or overzealous; may be journalists don’t toe the line they are supposed to,” Briamah said.
In his remark, the Acting Executive Secretary, Nigerian Press Council (NPC), Mr Victor Egharevba, said that the safety of journalists was very important, adding that the death of a journalist during the protest by Islamic Movement in Nigeria, was a sad story.
Egharevba, represented by Director of Research and Statistics at NPC, Mrs. Stella Jubri, stressed that the media and Police needed each other to succeed.
Prof. Kwame Karikari, a professor of journalism from Ghana, said that the media and Police render very important services to the pubic, yet they were the most hated and criticised by the public.
According to him, the job of a journalist and Police requires high level of professionalism, adding that Police fight crimes and journalists expose crimes.
“Both institutions promote and defend democracy; there is need for them to work together for the overall development of the country.
“The media do make mistakes as well as the police, however, there should be a civilised way of addressing mistakes committed by journalists and Police officers,” Karikari said.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), reports that participants were drawn from the Nigeria Police, Media and other relevant stakeholders.
NAN reports that Isiguzo later called for a motion to adopt the framework in principle with Mr Amos Duniya of the Forefront Magazine moving the motion for the adoption of the Framework on Police Media-Relationship and Safety of Journalists.
It was seconded by CSP Ngozi Nwokolo, Officer in Charge of Public Complaints Bureau at the Force Headquarters, Abuja.