President Muhammadu Buhari has been accused of using instruments of the state to go after percieved enemies while neglecting governance.
The leader of the Peoples Democratic (PDP) caucus in the House of Representatives, Kingsley Chimda made the allegation in a statement to newsmen on Friday.
According to Chimda on behalf of the other lawmakers, President Buhari has a habit of harrasing those who don’t see eye to eye with him on certain issues.
The lawmaker said the actions of the President amount to an abuse of his constitutional powers, abuse of the country’s democracy and an attempt to stiffle press freedom.
Making specific reference to the incidents which have followed an interview on Channels TV by Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom, the legislator accused President Buhari of using the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) to harras percieved opposition.
He called on the President to stop clamping down on people but face governance because the country is fast drifting into a “Hobbesian state amidst the raging insecurity currently engulfing the nation.”
“Certainly, there are more pressing issues demanding statecraft and leadership than the hounding of journalists and repression of the media merely on account of interviews granted by opposition figures.”
“We are also monitoring widespread reports that members of staff of Channels Television have been invited to the office of the Directorate of State Services (DSS) for interrogation in connection with their handling of the programme.
“The government of President Muhammadu Buhari is preoccupied with hounding perceived enemies of the administration and stifling the press, acts which are antithetical to democratic ethos.
“The assault on press freedom has reached a crescendo under this administration. Little wonder that Nigeria has emerged as the most dangerous place in West Africa for journalists, according to a survey released by global media advocacy organization, Reporters without Borders also known as Reporters Sans Frontieres (RSF) to mark the 2020 World Press Freedom Day.
“We, therefore, call on President Muhammadu Buhari to live up to his mandate to defend and protect the Constitution by immediately directing all relevant organs of State to desist from any further harassment of Channels Television or any other print or electronic media platform, as same violates the provisions of Chapter IV of the 1999 Constitution which guarantees freedom of expression and, by extension, Press freedom”, the statement added.
The PDP lawmakers also called for “the immediate and unconditional release of any journalist arrested and/or detained by any law enforcement agency simply for exercising his /her journalistic license.”