The Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) on Thursday voiced support for the editorial of The PUNCH Newspapers entitled, “Buhari’s lawlessness: Our stand,” saying it was done to rescue the nation.
In its explosive editorial, the newspaper had condemned the alleged violation of human rights by the regime of the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), including the shocking invasion of a courtroom to re-arrest the publisher of SaharaReporters, Omoyele Sowore, by operatives of the Department of State Services (DSS).
The NUJ in a statement by its National Secretary, Shuaibu Usman Leman, said, “The media must be allowed to carry out such responsibilities by insisting on good governance.
“The NUJ believes the front page comment of The PUNCH of Wednesday, December 11, 2019 which assessed President Muhammadu Buhari and his leadership style was not done in bad faith, but should rather be seen as an attempt to hold government accountable as enshrined in chapter 2, section 22 of the Nigerian constitution.
“While some may not necessarily support the choice of language used in the editorial, we are quick to note that this should not be enough excuse to accuse The PUNCH of habouring ulterior motives.
“It is our contention that the media must be allowed to carry out such responsibilities by insisting on good governance which include among others, rule of law, transparency, equity and inclusiveness and accountability. Anything short of these may not augur well for our democracy.”
Also, the General Secretary of frontline pro-democracy group, National Democratic Coalition [NADECO], Chief Ayo Opadokun, said Buhari had failed to transform from a military dictator to a democrat.
Opadokun, who spoke on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily programme on Thursday, noted that the re-arrest of Sowore in court in Gestapo manner was reminiscent of the regime of the late maximum ruler, Gen. Sani Abacha.
“We have human rights abuses in very embarrassing dimensions. What one never expected to be happening today is happening. I thought having laid down our lives, lost blood, liberty and even helped restore democracy in Nigeria; we thought these things would never happen again in Nigeria particularly this one of Sowore.
“It is a great embarrassment. It makes one look so unfortunate. Having wasted his time, wasted his life opportunity to serve the Nigerian people. Yet, those who captured power and were never part of the struggle who never knew where the shoe pinched, are messing up the entire system. It is unfortunate.”
Responding to a claim by an All Progressives Congress chieftain and fellow guest at the programme, Segun Oshinuga, that The PUNCH was aggrieved over the victory of Buhari in the last election, Opadokun said;
“I give kudos, I give credit very expressively to the Nigerian media.
“They fought a satanic battle. The Nigerian media ought to be celebrated because for all the struggles we suffered, if they were not reported and if they did not suffer same…they went into guerrilla journalism even to report the activities of the pro-democracy groups.
“The PUNCH, that he is now abusing, and others went into guerrilla journalism to report the military dictatorship that we had. So, these kind of characters are not speaking for government but for their pocket.”
Also, the proscribed separatist group, the Indigenous peoples of Biafra (IPOB), hailed the Punch for speaking the minds of Nigerians.