The International Federation of Journalists, which represents more than 500 000 journalists worldwide, expressed today its support to Nigerian journalists condemning the alleged drawing of a code tagged: “General Conduct for NASS Correspondents” by the National Assembly, as referred in an article of The Guardian and a statement of the International Press Centre in Lagos of Monday, July 14, 2003.
Among the offensive provisions of the said code are that “speculative journalism will attract appropriate punitive action” and that “leakage of official secret documents will attract disciplinary measures”
The IFJ joins the Nigerian journalists in their condemnation of the so-called code to which the authors curiously failed to append their signature.
Lanre Arogundade, coordinator of the International Press Centre, stated that "the so-called management of the National Assembly should be reminded that there already exists a Code of Ethics that guide the conduct of journalists and the practice of the profession of journalism in Nigeria". "Any other code", he added, "especially one like this that seeks to impose censorship on journalists and gag the press, is unacceptable".
"There were great hopes that the new National Assembly would accelerate the passage of the much debated Freedom of Information Law and other measures that would enhance freedom of the press and access to information in Nigeria" stated Aidan White, IFJ General Secretary. "The adoption of a restrictive, unilateral code of conduct for journalists without any consultation with the professionals certainly does not live up to these expectations".
The IFJ and the IPC therefore demand the immediate withdrawal of the so-called National Assembly code so that journalists covering the National Legislature could carry out their legitimate duties unhindered.
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