Home Article THE HEROES OF DEMOCRACY IN NIGERIA: THE ROLE OF THE PRESS…

THE HEROES OF DEMOCRACY IN NIGERIA: THE ROLE OF THE PRESS…

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REMINISCENCES: THE HEROES OF DEMOCRACY IN NIGERIA: THE ROLE OF THE PRESS IN SENSITIZING THE CITIZENRY “The only position that occurs to me that a man can successfully fill by the simple fact of birth is that of an idiot… “The born editor, who has succeeded greatly without special preparation is a man with unusual ability and aptitude to his chosen profession, with great power of concentration and sustained effort.’’ (Joseph Pulitzer, founder of the Pulitzer School of Journalism at Columbia University)  It is appropriate to say that the history of the evolution and sustenance of democracy in Nigeria will not be complete without a generous mention of the contributions of the Nigerian press. Media practitioners have for long been formidable pillars that have suffered incalculable oppression, in the process of consistently standing against bad governance and injustice. Great harm has come to many practitioners who were locked up in detention for long periods in the course of the performance of their functions. We will not go into specifics. Reports in the media have largely bred intolerance and media censorship by some governments, military and civil democratic regimes inclusive. Even, as some governments, especially the military exhibited their powers nakedly, the press marched along undeterred, in its avowed mission of ensuring that sanity prevailed in the polity. In this edition, TERRIFIC HEADLINES recalls an incident that occurred 37 years ago, when Prince Tony Momoh, then Editor of the famed ‘Daily Times’ successful challenged the Nigerian Senate on professional and human rights grounds. This piece becomes important when it is realized that the press is a veritable tool for shaping human conducts and so, could assist the nation greatly in evolving an enduring democratic culture. FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION In Nigeria, the Right to Freedom of Expression and the press is enshrined in chapter IV sub section 39 of the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) says that “every person shall be entitled to freedom of expression, including freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart ideas and information without interference”. To buttress this point, the landmark judgment delivered by Mr. Justice Candido-Johnson, acting Chief Judge of Lagos State (as he then was) in a suit instituted by Tony Momoh, then Editor Daily Times against the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in 1980, following a report published by the Daily Times edition of February 4,…

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