“We are all witnesses to recurring examples of coercion, threats, brutality, arrests, incarceration and media shut down perpetrated by the state against journalists and their establishments.
Yakubu Dogara, Speaker of the House of Representatives, has warned those who attack the media to desist from such in the interest of public good.
He made the charge in Abuja on Saturday while speaking at a two-day conference organised by the Premuim Times Centre for Investigative Journalism (PTCIJ) to mark the Press Freedom Day.
The conference, themed 'Press Freedom in Nigeria – Violent Extremism, Rule of Law and the Media', was organised with the support of the British Council and the European Union (EU).
Dogara said those who attack the media by labe'ling reports as fake news are enemies of the people.
He charged the 9th Assembly to dedicate itself to policies that will encourage press freedom, saying: “As legislators, we will always stand up and speak out for pressmen and media outfits that uphold the ethics of fairness, objectivity, truthfulness and patriotism in their practice.
"I hope the 9th Assembly will dedicate itself to enacting enabling laws that will prioritise the protection and welfare of journalists to enable them do their work democratically.
"The theme of this year’s celebration is most apt as Nigeria now faces one of the worst periods of insecurity manifesting in violent extremism, rampant cases of kidnapping, cattle rustling.
"Herder/Farmers violent conflicts and murderous campaign of bandits across Nigeria. These are major challenges to media practitioners. The media must constantly balance the need to inform the citizens with their equally weighty responsibility to ensure that their reports do not contribute to exacerbating an already dangerously tense and fragile situation.
“In all nations of the world, the citizens appreciate the role of the press to inform, educate and entertain as well promote accountability of the government to the people. We are all witnesses to recurring examples of coercion, threats, brutality, arrests, incarceration and media shut down perpetrated by the state against journalists and their establishments.
“Instances of these draconian measures adopted by state actors abound during the recent elections held in parts of the country and the general elections. Our media practitioners definitely deserve some applause. But we will do better, if we never stop documenting and exposing all cases of oppression of journalist by enemies of open society who masquerade as democrats.
“If we never cease to demand that those in power must halt efforts to curtail press freedom and freedom of expression and above all, continue with courage to bring the laws and hold those in power to account."