SERAP Nigeria has urged the leadership of the House of Representatives to immediately drop the unconstitutional, illegal and discriminatory bill pushing to criminalise and stop journalists with no “media degree” from doing their job as journalists.
SERAP tweeted on Thursday that, “We will pursue appropriate legal action if this bill is not immediately withdrawn.
“It’s discriminatory for National Assembly members to raise the qualification to practise as journalists in Nigeria while the educational qualification to be a member of the legislative body and to become a president remains a School Certificate or its equivalent.
“The House of Representatives and the Senate cannot arbitrarily and in good conscience push for a ‘media degree’ without first amending sections 65(2) and 131 of the Nigerian Constitution, which prescribe only a School Certificate to become a member and a president, respectively.
“By this logic, members of the National Assembly should possess at least a degree in democratic studies or law-making, and would-be president should have a degree in democratic studies or governance.
“The National Assembly should show a greater level of transparency and accountability in their activities by immediately withdrawing the unconstitutional bill and allowing journalists to freely do their work.
“Rather than imposing a ‘media degree’ on journalists, the National Assembly should take responsibility and focus on making laws to guarantee socio-economic rights as fundamental rights, improve the security situation in the country and to improve access to basic public services.
“The bill will make it compulsory for media practitioners to have degrees. The proposal is contained in the Nigerian Press Council Amendment Bill 2019 sponsored by Mr Francis Agbo, which has been slated for second reading. The bill will also increase the punishment and fine for “untrained and fake journalists.”