Tuned Opalana, Abuja
The National Assembly has issued very stringent guidelines for journalists in a move similar to gagging the media.
In the guideline issued by the management on Monday made available to the Daily Times, the legislative body outlined process of fresh accreditation for journalists covering the National Assembly which include; number of journalists, photo journalists and cameramen for television outfits. mode and class of accreditation and unimaginable requitements from media organisations
Titled :New Guidelines for the Accreditation of Media Organisations, Journalists/ Correspondents Covering the National Assembly, the National Assembly classified accreditation as ;
permanent, temporary, foreign/ international media houses and freelance while permanent accreditation entails; evidence of certificate of incorporation of the media organisation. , evidence of membership of professional bodies for media organization, proof of membership of Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) with registration number., code of certification from the National Library for the media organization.
Other requirements are; “functional Bureau in Abuja (Staff Strength not less than 5 Editorial staff and daily circulation of 40,000 copies for the print media with evidence to support the claimed circulation figure.
” Media Houses must be publishing daily and on weekend (Applicable to Online Media).
“Re-certification form must be signed and endorsed by the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Media organization Bureau Chief, City Editor as the case may be.
“The Media organization concerned must have experience of covering proceedings of the National Assembly for at least two (2) years before applying for permanent accreditation.
“All media organization will submit a copy of its income tax return for the last two years.
“All online media must have at least 5000 viewership per day, the site must have been in operation for 5 years and provide satisfactory evidence to this effect with clippings of the news utilized (especially parliamentary news).
“Only television stations with national coverage and specific independent producers with current running programme on the National Assembly will be allowed access into the Chambers on a permanent basis (All the production crew will be accredited as entity).
“All correspondents must attach photocopy of letter of appointment of the media organization on whose behalf request has been received for grant of accreditation.
“All freelance journalist seeking permanent accreditation must show evidence of not less than 5 years coverage of the National Assembly proceedings/full editorial focus and publication on parliamentary reportage”.
The management warned that it is only Journalists and correspondence whose media organisations meet the above requirements for Permanent accreditation that will be entitled to carry National Assembly Identity Card/Membership of the respective Press Corp as all other media organization who do not meet the above requirement will be captured under the Temporary accreditation status and they will not be entitled to carry National Assembly Identity Card/Membership of the Press Corp of the Senate and House of Representatives.
It stated further that alll Temporary accredited media houses, journalists/correspondents shall be allowed permit into the National Assembly for specific coverage not exceeding one (1) week in the first instance and not more than twice in a month while foreign/international media houses seeking accreditation shall abide by all the Diplomatic Protocols established by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for foreign media organizations, the Code of Ethics for Nigerian Journalists and security clearance before accreditation will be considered upon the recommendation from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The management advised all permanently accredited journalists/correspondents to submit recertification letter from the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of their media organization on a sessional basis failure to which accreditation shall be withdrawn forthwith.
This new accreditation guidetines shall come into effect from June 11 2019.
Meanwhile, journalists covering the National Assembly have kicked against the Guidelines, describing it as an attempt to muzzle the press and suppress its freedom.
In a letter addressed to the Clerk to the National Assembly and signed by the chairman of the Senate Press Corps, Esreal Tabiowo, the media cautioned the NASS management not to swim against the tide.
He stated categorically that the guidelibe s “suppress press freedom and the ethos of parliamentary democracy which the Senate Press Corps has over the years strived to uphold.
” In our assessment, we believe the recent move by the management pose an act of intimidation against journalists assigned to cover the National Assembly “.
He informed the management that Section 22 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) empowers the media to government and its institutions accountable to the people.
The section says ” The Press, radio and 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 “.
As a control measure, Tabiowo, who doubles as Secretary General, West African Parliamentary Press Corps, said the Press Corps as a body has over the years ensured that only credible media houses and professional journalists are accredited to be members of the body, so as to shut out quacks that may give the profession a bad name.
The body therefore, asked that the management should liaise with the leadership of the Press Corps to obtain a list of members who meet with the requirements of membership as provided in the Press Corps bye-law.