The media in any society is a powerful institution whose role in educating, informing and entertaining the populace cannot be over-emphasized.
Due to its critical role in making or undermining a society, more so the Nigerian society in a democratic system, the constitution recognised the media as the fourth estate of the realm and as a result of its indispensability, it was accorded some rights and privileges to allow it carry out its function without fear or favour.
However, our recent experience with the Nigerian media has left much to be desired in terms of reporting issues and events objectively and accurately. The Nigerian media’s penchant for mischief is simply out of this world making one wonder at times how the media got to this embarrassing state of being peddlers of lies, falsehood, conjectures, unsubstantiated rumours and assumptions and misinformation?
One recollects how some years ago, which is still very recent, the Nigerian media was the most authoritative source for truth and fact no matter whose ox is gored. The media, like we always say, does not manufacture stories, but reports events and happenings. But it appears that was then. The way and manner some sections of the Nigeria media reports events is shameful and unfortunate, it’s a disgrace to the noble profession of pen-pushing
The media appears consumed by the challenges faced by society today and is now a harbinger and peddler of lies, falsehood, half-truths, twisted stories and misinformation, which is very unfortunate, to say the least.
Repeatedly, as a young man who recognises the important role of the media in shaping society for good which is the essence of the media in reporting stories, whether good or bad without embellishments, one has always warned that the route that the media is headed in deviating from the truth will eventually destroy the institution if it cannot be trusted to report issues and events accurately.
Seems like the days of the self-destruction of the media are very much at hand with the way it has continued to report stories with slants and conjectures just to suit its warped and jaundiced perspective.
Today the 11th of May, 2022, the Court of Appeal sitting in Abuja voided Section 84(12) of the 2022 Electoral Act among other decisions of the court.
Not unexpectedly, a large section of the media reportage of the court judgement was at variance with the tenets of facts and accurate reportage. A lot of them went to town with a twisted version of the judgement to misinform and mislead the populace.
The judgement of the Court of Appeal was read in the English language which is Nigeria’s lingua franca, but, because, maybe a section of the media had their version of the judgement which was not decided by the court, a large section of the media was silent on the Court of Appeal judgement voiding the controversial Section 84 (12) of the 2022 Electoral Act.
Rather, they focused in their reportage on the aspect of the court decision that the Federal High Court in Umuahia lacked jurisdiction to entertain the matter and that the plaintiff had no locus standi to file the suit because he was not an interested party, to put it in another way which the court didn’t say, but can be implied, he was a meddlesome interloper.
The court judgement is produced here below
” …… He proceeded to determine the case on merit and held that the provision is unconstitutional because it violates Section 42 (1)(a) of the Constitution and denied a class of Nigerian citizens their right to participate in elections.
Justice Barka said: “It is my view that the provision of Section 84(12) of the Electoral Act 2022 specifically targets political appointees and disqualifies them from being voting delegates or from being voted for at convention or congress of any political party for the nomination of candidates for any election.
“This provision does not disqualify any other class of people. It is my view that political appointees fit into the term: community in Section 42(1)(a) of the Constitution as members of that group share the same job and therefore, the same political interest.
“Section 84(12) of the Electoral Act expressly subjects them to disabilities and restrictions from other citizens of Nigeria, other communities, political interests and political views and thereby contravenes the provision of Section 42 (1)(a) of the Constitution and thereby null and void,” he said.
Other members of the panel: Justices U. E. Ekanem and Mohammed Mustapha agreed with the lead judgment”.
With this judgement quoted above, which is unambiguous to even the layman, hope we can all appreciate the disservice the media is doing to itself and the society by this mischief of not reporting accurately and objectively?
Let us remind ourselves that this section of the Electoral Act 2022 was highlighted by President Muhammadu Buhari to the National Assembly when he assented to the Act, as requiring amendment because, in the words of the President, it infringed on the rights of political appointees and is a violation of the constitution which has now been validated by the Court of Appeal which voided the section in its judgement today. The observation by Mr President was concurred absolutely with by yours sincerely who identified it as a selfish clause by members of the National Assembly that packaged the Electoral Act 2022 as payback against the influence of sitting governors at party primaries instead of the larger interest of deepening our democracy.
Well, we thank God and are full of gratitude to the Court of Appeal for voiding Section 84 (12) of the 2022 Electoral Act, which is a violation of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. If the National Assembly likes, the window of the Supreme Court is open to them for contestation against this judgement.
As for the Nigerian media, we have again noted, with dismay, another mischief which is rather unfortunate, as they have shirked their responsibility of fair, objective and accurate reporting, to do the opposite.
But let it be noted that posterity has recorded this among several other mischiefs, falsehoods and misinformation against the Nigerian media and in the fullness of time, the breeze will blow and we will see the rump of the chicken.
Nelson Ekujumi can be reached on: