We have read the obviously sponsored article titled “Between HURIWA And ICPC”, published in the LEADERSHIP newspaper edition of Tuesday September 11, 2018 and authored by one faceless Ismaila Mahmoud where he alleged that “a human rights group known as Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria has been harassing the management of some government parastatals and top public officers with allegations capable of giving such organisations a bad image”.
The publication did not only express reservation or worry over the activities of HURIWA, but also outrightly condemned it and went as far as calling on ICPC and others to dissociate from it. The writer however cleverly tried to use references in most of its allegation as if it were mere reportage. While they have the onus to prove their allegations in defence of justification, it does appear like there is some element of malice which may not avail in fair comment.
In any case, HURIWA has the task of establishing that they are false and that its reputation has been or is being affected.
However, as a group with media bent, we opted to just correct the errors contained in the poorly written write up most especially in the section whereby he alleged that HURIWA drops the name of ICPC to harass some parastatals.”
As head of HURIWA with legitimate claim to be one of the most refined and robust defenders of media rights, i have chosen to give the media house the benefits of the doubts and to assume that they were tricked into running libellous piece that can inconvenience them if instituted in the court of law.
Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) has an illustrious reputation that has spanned over eleven years since after registration.
We have never in the cause of our operations approached any agency of the Federal government claiming to know the independent corrupt practices and related offences commission (ICPC) nor have we any working relationship with ICPC. We are totally independent. We will continue however to expose corruption wherever we find it even if it is within the anti-graft bodies. Those who have skeletons in their cupboard can continue to have sleepless nights hiring fake hack writers to burnish their waning image.
HURIWA has no business with ICPC and the petition instituted in the ICPC, (If any) was not done by us. HURIWA wrote a freedom of information request to the Director General of NBC to demand clarification on the payment of N2.5 Billion made by NBC in 2016 to a privately licenced Digital Switch over operator and we demanded to be told why NBC which is neither a lending institution or Father Christmas could authorize such an illegal payment and on which arrangement the said payment was made.
The D.G of NBC never responded to the FOI request just like most government officials but competent sources availed us of information on the said payment and we have since published our findings by way of media release. Why is the NBC D.G running riot and spending public fund to rent hack writers to go after us? We will not waste further time responding unless it is absolutely necessary but we will even escalate our patriotic duties to Nigeria.
The D.G of NBC owe Nigerians explanation on the alleged payment of N2.5 Billion to a private firm and the earlier he denies or releases the official payment vouchers the better for transparency and accountability.
The media must be vigilant and stop making itself available to be used as a conduit to hide information or to attack groups that are patriotically committed to promote good governance, transparency and accountability.
Michael O’Shaughnessy and Jane Stadler wrote as follows “Clearly, the media play an important role in the process of representing and communicating political policies, issues, and so forth. But in practice there are limits to democracy: in most democracies there are only two or three significantly powerful parties, so your voting power is limited to the policies and values they are willing to promote. Because of the need to appeal to the majority of voters, the views of the main parties will invariably be relatively conservative, mainstream positions that are often rendered even more general by the media’s attempts to cater to the largest possible audience”, ( MEDIA & SOCIETY).
– Onwughalu is a project director at the Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA.
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