SERAP Gives Tinubu Ultimatum to Reverse Ban on Aso Rock Coverage
By Adedapo Adesanya
The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has urged President Bola Tinubu to rescind the ban placed on 25 media houses.
Business Post understands that Aso Rock recently withdrew the accreditation of 25 journalists from covering activities at the Presidential Villa. Those affected included Vanguard Newspapers, Galaxy TV, Ben TV, MITV, ITV Abuja, PromptNews, ONTV, and Liberty, among others.
In a letter signed by its Deputy Director, Mr Kolawole Oluwadare, the organisation called on the President to use his “good offices and leadership position to immediately reverse the unlawful ban from covering the Presidential Villa and restore the accreditation of those affected.”
SERAP urged him “to publicly instruct the officials in the presidential villa to allow journalists and media houses to freely do their job and discharge their constitutional duty of holding those in power to account.”
The organisation said, “Barring these journalists and media houses from covering the Presidential Villa is to prevent them from carrying out their legitimate constitutional responsibility.”
“Your administration cannot, with one broad stroke, ban journalists from covering public functions. Citizens’ access to information and participation would mean little if journalists and media houses were denied access to the seat of government.
“Media freedom is a cornerstone of Nigeria’s democracy, and journalists must be able to hold the government to account. This is a matter of public interest. The government cannot cherry-pick journalists to cover its activities,” the group added.
SERAP said it “would be grateful if the recommended measures are taken within 48 hours of the receipt and/or publication of this letter.”
It warned that, “If we have not heard from you by then, SERAP shall consider appropriate legal actions to compel your government to comply with our request in the public interest.”
The organisation noted that based on Article 13 of the Charter, every citizen has the right to participate freely in the government of his country.
“Every citizen shall have the right of equal access to the public service of his country. Every individual shall have the right of access to public property and services,” a part of the charter stated.
The group emphasised that the decision to withdraw the licences of the media organisations may be considered by Nigerians “as your government’s ambivalence towards media freedom, and citizens’ rights of access to information and participation in their own government.”