By Patrick Obia and Kelvin Ololo
Cross River Government has been urged to stop clamping down on the media and respect rights of journalists in the State.
The call was made by Association of Cross River Online Journalists (ACROJ) in a statement, signed by its Chairman and Secretary, Comrade Darlington Edem and Comrade Archibong Jeremiah respectively.
ACROJ called on the State Government to respect section 22 of the country’s 1999 constitution (as amended), and withdraw all cases in Court against journalists in Cross River.
The union of online journalists urged practitioners to maintain NCDC COVID-19 protocol whilst informing, educating and entertaining the society.
The statement was issued today (Saturday) after an event marking Cross River State Press Freedom Day 2020.
August 22 was set aside as Cross River State Press Freedom Day, by a coalition of Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) and ACROJ, following the trial of Citizen Agba Jalingo, Comrade Archibong Jeremiah and Comrade Jonathan Ugbal.
The event held on Jalingo’s 41 birthday, 2 January, 2020 which made it 146 days of his incarceration. Jalingo spent six months in prison before granted bail. He was arrested in Lagos and brought to Calabar by road.
Jeremiah and Jonathan were arrested while on duty on August 5, 2019, charged to court and granted bail after spending two nights in Police custody.
In the event marking Cross River State Press Freedom Day 2020, Mr. Fidelis Duker, CEO of FAD Media Group, guest speaker commended ACROJ for the initiative.
Mr. Duker cautioned that, “it is important to fact check your report to avoid unnecessary errors, it is not about who broke the news but who’s information is correct.”
The ace film maker cum journalist maintained that the fourth estate ought to be protected to allow them effectively do their job.
Duker said, journalist should continue to be objective and balanced in their reportage, no matter the hurdles in the profession. He added that ACROJ should create more initiatives as such.
Also, the second guest speaker, Arc. Bassey Ndem said journalists should avoid political sentiments in discharging their duties.
He maintained that, how the leadership cadre see journalists reflects in the way and manner they’re treated. According to him, journalism is beautiful and profitable if practiced ethically.
Arc. Ndem said, from his experience as one who was in Government and out of Government, most journalists are the cause of their problem.
He concluded by averring that journalism is a noble profession that should be held in high esteem as he encouraged journalists, to maintain high level of professionalism.
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