Some lawyers in Lagos on Friday called on governments to shield journalists from all forms of oppression to ensure smooth discharge of their duties.
The lawyers told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) that the mass media, the Fourth Estate of the Realm, are watchdogs of the society and should be encouraged to discharge their duties without fear or favour.
The lawyers spoke to NAN in celebration of the 2019 World Press Freedom Day.
NAN reports that World Press Freedom Day is celebrated yearly on May 3.
A lawyer and rights campaigner, Mr Ogedi Ogu of the Source Solicitors, told NAN that journalists worldwide were endangered in the discharge of their duties.
He hailed the Nigerian media for untiring efforts to bring enlightened opinion on societal issues to the front burner.
“I congratulate the Fourth Estate of the Realm for a thorough execution of their daily routines in news dissemination, and I urge them to keep faith with the practice of disseminating correct news.
“Although journalists are, sometimes, subjected to intimidations and oppressions, they must keep up the fight in ensuring publication of authentic news.
“The media must be encouraged to disseminate news truly and fairly, and must not be subjected to intimidation, harassment, threat or oppression,” he said.
Chief Malcolm Omirhobo, Director of a Non Governmental Organisation – Omirhobo Foundation – described journalists as the eyes of the society.
According to him, in a democratic dispensation, freedom of information is sacred.
He called on journalists to take advantage of the Freedom of Information Act to effectively discharge their duties.
“The media is a very vital organ; journalists are watchdogs; if they are well nurtured, they will yield favourable results, but if oppressed, they cannot perform well.
“They are the eyes of the society, as they bring to public knowledge, whatever transpires in the nation; they also represent the voice of the oppressed and stand between the top and low classes of a society.
“I commend the legislature for passing the Freedom of Information Act, which has made it possible to seek and obtain certain information from public officers and offices.
“Journalists should, therefore, exploit the full benefits of the Act in the discharge of their duties so as to have detailed and balanced reports,” he said.
Omirhobo also urged governments to ensure protection of the right to personal liberties of media professionals.