National Conference denies barring journalists from covering its committees

The secretary of the National Conference says only one committee stopped journalists from covering its deliberations.

The leadership of the National Conference on Wednesday said it never issued any directive for journalists to be barred from covering any of its Committee sittings.

Journalists accredited to cover the Conference proceedings were on Tuesday prevented from accessing the halls where some of the Committees met at the National Judicial Institute, NJI.

Viewed as an affront to the journalism profession, many media houses had published scathing reports on the matter.

But the Assistant Secretary, Media and Communications, Akpandem James, said only one Committee out of 20 mistakenly prevented reporters from covering its proceedings.

Mr. James, who addressed journalists at the NJI venue, said the leadership at no time gave any order for the media to be restricted from covering any aspect of the Conference.

Out of the 20 Standing Committees, Mr. James said only the Committee on Devolution of Power initially barred journalists from covering its deliberations.

He explained that the leadership of the Committee thought committee sessions were restricted and therefore did not open sittings for direct media coverage.

He said: “You cannot say that journalists were barred from covering activities of Conference Committees if only one out of the 20 Committees misunderstood the fact that the sittings were supposed to be open to the media.

“I have just gone in to inform one of the Co-chairmen of the Committee, that reporters should be allowed to cover every aspects of the Committee’s work and he immediately agreed that they should come in.”

While enjoining Journalists covering the Conference to always refer issues they have to his office for prompt attention, Mr. James noted that it was hasty of some reporters to conclude that journalists were being barred from covering Committee proceedings, when the matter only involved a single committee.

When journalists were allowed to access the Committee, its Co-Chairman, Victor Attah, advised them to be fair and objective in reporting activities of the Conference.

He pointed to a particular report in one of the newspapers where it was indicated that there was a disagreement between him and the Co-Chairman of the Committee, Ibrahim Commassie.

He advised, “Please let us act with absolute responsibility. Record what you want to record, but please do it with absolute sense of responsibility and with the understanding that what you do will engender unity and peace in Nigeria.”

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