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Press Council Law: NPAN, NUJ, NGE to appeal court judgment

The Nigerian Press Organization (NPO), comprising the Newspapers Proprietors Association of Nigeria (NPAN), the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) and the Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE), has resolved to appeal the December 4, 2015 decision of the Court of Appeal which upturned a  Federal High Court Lagos judgment that declared the Press Council Law as unconstitutional, null and void.

At its expanded stakeholders meeting yesterday in Lagos, the NPO after exhaustive deliberations also decided to work with the National Assembly to get a suitable self-regulatory Press Council law for professionals in Nigeria.

A communique issued at the end of the meeting jointly signed by NPO president, Nduka Obaigbena;  General Secretary, NPAN, Comfort Obi; General Secretary, NGE, Victoria Ibanga and NUJ president, Waheed Odusile, also stated:

lThat members of the NPO shall not nominate members into the Board of the Press Council until the final determination of the case at the Supreme Court of Nigeria

lNPO encourages the present administration to come on board with the NPO to get an acceptable self-regulatory Nigeria Press Council law at the National Assembly.

lThat the Executive in the spirit of democracy should reject the NPC decree as it was a product of the military regime and not in tandem with democratic norms and recent technological developments.

According to the communique, “the NPO had been in court since 1999, to challenge the constitutionality of the  military-created Press Council Decree which, to give it a garb of general  acceptance, was transmuted as an Act of the National Assembly with the advent  of democracy in 1999.

“In heading to court, the NPO, propelled by the fact that the press having been  recognised as a pillar of democracy and thus given a definite role in the  Constitution to hold the government accountable to the people, in order to  enhance public good, it will be counter productive for the same press to be  regulated by those it is to hold accountable. As it is with other professions like  Law, Accountancy, and Medicine, the best form of regulation is SELF REGULATION by  the professionals concerned.

Justice L. Liman of the Federal High Court, Lagos, affirmed this view in his judgment delivered on the case on February 25, 2010 where he held that the Press Council Law was” unconstitutional, null and void”

However, that judgment was upturned at the Court of Appeal via a lead judgment delivered  on December 4/ 2015, by Justice Chinwe Eugenia lvizoba who held that the Act 11 is a necessary and justifiable law in a democratic government”.

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