Nigerian media practitioners to challenge military era law at Supreme Court

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The Nigerian Press Organization Monday resolved to “immediately” appeal a Court of Appe‎al decision upholding the Nigerian Press Council Decree of 1992.

At‎ its meeting in Lagos, the NPO – comprising of the Newspaper Proprietors’ Association of Nigeria (NPAN), the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), and the Nigerian Guild of Editors – said the decree was a product of a military regime.

The Press Council Decree No. 85 was amended to the Nigeria Press Council (Amendment) Act of 1999.

An appeal court in December 2015 held that the amended Act is a “necessary and justifiable law in a democratic government,” reversing a Federal High Court ‎decision in 2010 which declared the law as “oppressive, over-bearing and grossly incompatible with civilized standard of society”.

“The NPO had been in court since 1999, to challenge the constitutionality of the military-created Press Council Decree which, to give it a garb of general acceptance, was transmuted as an Act of the National Assembly with the advent of democracy in 1999,” the NPO said in a statement signed by Nduka Obaigbena, its president; Comfort Obi, NPAN’s General Secretary, among others.

“In heading to court, the NPO propelled by the fact that the press having been recognized as a pillar of democracy and thus been given a definite role in the Constitution to hold the government accountable to the people, in order to enhance public good‎, it will be counter productive for the same press to be regulated by those it is to hold accountable.

“As it is with other profession like Law, Accountancy, Medicine, the best form of regulation is self-regulation by the professionals concerned.”

The NPO also resolved to work with the National Assembly to get a suitable self-regulatory press council law for professionals in the country.

They resolved not to nominate any member of NPO into the board of the Press Council until the determination of the case at the Supreme Court.

The group further encouraged the present government ‎to reject the NPC law because it’s “not in tandem with democratic norms and recent technological development”.

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