Ominous Sign of the Dark Days

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The barring of the African Independent Television (AIT) from covering activities of the President-elect, General Muhammadu Buhari (rtd) — notwithstanding the decision to reverse it by the All Progressives Congress (APC — has raised fears that the nation might return to the dark days of the military when journalists and media outfits were routinely harassed and persecuted for doing their jobs.
On Monday, security men attached to the President-elect barred the AIT correspondent, Tinabeso Bebei, from covering Buhari’s functions.
Buhari’s media aide, Mallam Garba Shehu, attributed the decision to some nebulous security and ethical concerns about the media outfit.
However, not a few see the ban as a revenge by the President-elect over AIT’s airing of documentaries critical of Buhari in the days leading to the just-concluded general election in the country.
Even if that was the case, many see the decision as unnecessary in a democracy where the journalists and media houses have the duty of educating the electorate on the characters of public office seekers as well as holding government and its officials accountable.
As long as the media outfit broke no laws and has so far not been adjudged guilty by any court, the President-elect by the action has most certainly overreached himself.
The President-elect should be reminded that in a democracy, dissent is constitutional and that the media provides the platform for people to ventilate their views on issues and personalities whether critical or not as long as they stay within the confines of law. And, if the law is breached in any form, democracy provides due avenues for redress
The President-elect must surely learn to tolerate opposing views, including those critical of his person. Nothing must be done by him and his incoming administration to throw Nigeria back to the days of military jackboots, where dissent was not only forbidden but also punished, to the eternal damnation of the country.

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