A group, the Association of Cross River Online Journalists, has urged the Federal Government and the Cross River State Government to drop all charges against journalists standing trial for doing their job.
The union of online journalists practising in Cross River State made the call in a statement issued by its Chairman, Darlington Edem, and Secretary, Archibong Jeremiah, respectively on World Press Freedom Day 2021.
The statement reads in part, “May 3 acts as a reminder to the governments of the need to respect their commitment to press freedom and is also a day of reflection among media professionals about issues of press freedom and professional ethics.
“Just as importantly, World Press Freedom Day is a day of support for media which are targets for the restraint, or abolition of press freedom. It is also a day of remembrance for those journalists who lost their lives in the pursuit of a story.
“World Press Freedom Day has its origins in a UNESCO conference in Windhoek in 1991. The event ended on 3 May with the adoption of the landmark Windhoek Declaration for the Development of a Free, Independent and Pluralistic Press. After 30 years, the historic connection made between the freedom to seek, impart and receive information and the public good remains as relevant as it was at the time of its signing.
“The theme for this year – Information as a Public Good, is apt and worthy of note. It resonates closely to us in Cross River State. Journalists have remained targeted specie and seen as threat to those in public office, the height of it is the current trial of our Board of Trustees Chairman, Citizen Agba Jalingo for exposing corrupt practices in the current administration.
“We commend journalists risking their lives to get the public informed, we bow for those who lost their lives in the course of duty. We urge the Cross River State Government and Federal Government to drop all charges against journalists standing trial for doing their job. We also urge judges and magistrates not to allow them to be used as clog in the wheel of justice and discharge and acquit journalists that are victims of witch-hunt for their good jobs. Let’s all respect and uphold the good gospel of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”