The management of the National Assembly has released stringent guidelines for accreditation of media organizations, journalists and correspondents covering the parliament from June 1, 2019 when the 9th assembly is expected to be inaugurated.
What this means: According to the Director of Information, National Assembly, Agada Emmanuel, all previous accreditation granted to media houses and journalists will elapse the same time as the 8th Assembly.
Under the terms of the new guidelines: Television and independent producers are required to have one reporter and one cameraman; Online media are required to have a reporter and a photographer; Radio stations are required to have a reporter.
20 conditions were given by the national assembly management, including:
- Evidence of a certificate of incorporation
- Copy of income tax returns for the last two years
- Proof of membership of professional bodies, including proof of membership of Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) with registration number
- Code of certification from the National Library for the media organization,
- Functional Bureau in Abuja with staff Strength not less than 5 Editorial staff publishing daily and on weekends.
- Daily circulation of 40,000 copies for the print media with evidence to support the claimed circulation figure, and 50,000 daily views in the case of online media.
- The media organizations must have experience covering proceedings of the national assembly for at least two years before applying for permanent accreditation.
- Online sites must have been in existence for five years etc.
The Senate Press Corps, Nigeria Union of Journalists, Nigeria Guild of Editors, Peoples Democratic Party, among others have condemned the new guidelines.
- The Senate Press Corps in a letter by its chairman, Ezrel Tabiowo: “In our assessment, we believe the recent move by the management poses an act of intimidation against journalists assigned to cover the National Assembly.”
- NUJ president, Christopher Iziguzo: “We have given the National Assembly 24 hours within which to withdraw the satanic guidelines. The guidelines are meant to stifle the press. We will not accept it.”
- Nigerian Guild of Editors General Secretary, Mary Atolagbe: “We find the guidelines vexatious, disrespectful and draconian. It is a scurrilous attempt to gag the press in a democracy and it cannot stand.”
- PDP national chairman, Uche Secondus: “It is unbelievable. How can we have such under a democratic government? Are we in another man’s country or not? Those guidelines are poisonous and should be rejected.”