In a recent legal development, the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has taken President Bola Tinubu to court for what they assert is “the unlawful ban and withdrawal of the accreditations of 25 journalists and media houses from covering the Presidential Villa.”

The Federal Government’s decision to revoke the accreditations of approximately 25 journalists who had been reporting on events within the Presidential Villa in Abuja has sparked this legal action.

At the main entrance of the Presidential Villa, affected journalists were reportedly instructed to surrender their accreditation tags.

In a lawsuit filed under suit number FHC/L/CS/1766/23 last Friday at the Federal High Court in Lagos, SERAP seeks “an order to direct and compel President Tinubu to reverse the revocation of the accreditations and ban on 25 journalists and media houses from covering the Presidential Villa.”

SERAP, represented by lawyers Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa, SAN, Kolawole Oluwadare, and Ms. Valentina Adegoke, asserts that “The ban on the journalists from covering the Presidential Villa fails to meet the requirements of legality, necessity, and proportionality.”

The organization further argues that “The media plays an essential role as a vehicle or instrument for the exercise of freedom of expression and access to information – in its individual and collective aspects – in a democratic society.”

“The withdrawal of the accreditation tags of these journalists directly violates media freedom and human rights including access to information and the right to participation. It would have a significant chilling effect on newsgathering and reporting functions, and may lead to self-censorship.”

SERAP contends that “The withdrawal of the accreditations of the journalists would construct barriers between Nigerians and certain information about the operations of their government, something which they have a constitutional right to receive.”

Notably, among the banned journalists are representatives from media outlets such as Vanguard newspaper, Galaxy TV, Ben TV, MITV, ITV Abuja, PromptNews, ONTV, and Liberty. The affected media personnel are predominantly reporters and cameramen from various broadcast, print, and online media platforms.

The lawsuit invokes section 22 of the Nigerian Constitution, which upholds the role of mass media, including “the press, radio, television, and other agencies of the mass media” in upholding fundamental objectives and ensuring the government’s accountability to the people. Additionally, section 14(2)(c) of the Constitution underscores the importance of people’s participation in their government in accordance with constitutional provisions.

As of now, no specific date has been set for the hearing of this lawsuit, which has significant implications for press freedom and access to information in Nigeria.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *