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Tinubu Sued for Banning 25 Journalists from Covering Aso Rock

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President Bola Tinubu is facing a lawsuit from the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP). The lawsuit pertains to what SERAP claims is an unjust ban and removal of accreditation for 25 journalists and media organizations from reporting on activities at the Presidential Villa.

Not long ago, the Federal Government took the decision to withdraw the accreditation of approximately 25 journalists who had been regularly reporting on events at the Presidential Villa in Abuja.

According to reports, these affected journalists were asked to surrender their accreditation badges at the main entrance of the Presidential Villa.

In the suit number FHC/L/CS/1766/23 filed last Friday at the Federal High Court in Lagos, SERAP is seeking: “an order to direct and compel President Tinubu to reverse the revocation of the accreditations and ban on 25 journalists and media houses from covering the Presidential Villa.”

The suit filed on behalf of SERAP its lawyers Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa, SAN, Kolawole Oluwadare, and Ms Valentina Adegoke, read in part: “The ban on the journalists from covering the Presidential Villa fails to meet the requirements of legality, necessity, and proportionality.”

“The media plays an essential role as a vehicle or instrument for the exercise of freedom of expression and access to information – in its individual and collective aspects – in a democratic society.”

“The existence of a free, independent, vigorous, pluralistic, and diverse media is essential for the proper functioning of a democratic society.”

“Barring these journalists and media houses from covering the Presidential Villa is to prevent them from carrying out their legitimate constitutional responsibility.”

“The withdrawal of the accreditation tags of these journalists directly violates media freedom and human rights including access to information and the right to participation. It would have a significant chilling effect on newsgathering and reporting functions, and may lead to self-censorship.”

“The withdrawal of the accreditations of the journalists would construct barriers between Nigerians and certain information about the operations of their government, something which they have a constitutional right to receive.”

“The banned journalists reportedly include those from Vanguard newspaper; Galaxy TV; Ben TV; MITV; ITV Abuja; PromptNews, ONTV, and Liberty. Other media personnel affected by the withdrawal are mostly reporters and cameramen from broadcast, print, and online media outlets.”

“Under section 22 of the Nigerian Constitution, the mass media including ‘the press, radio, television and other agencies of the mass media shall at all times be free to uphold the fundamental objectives contained in this Chapter and uphold the responsibility and accountability of the Government to the people.’”

“Section 14(2)(c) of the Constitution provides that ‘the participation by the people in their government shall be ensured in accordance with the provisions of this Constitution.’”

No date has been fixed for the hearing of the suit.

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