The National Secretariat of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) has cautioned its members against using their media platforms and civic space for some individuals or groups to settle personal scores or further their personal interests under the guise of fighting corruption and promoting good governance.
The union said it had received complaints from government officials and entities that some groups masquerading as civil society in cohort with some journalists have embarked on ignoble project of tarnishing the good name, image and reputations of some officials in ministries, departments and agencies especially in the oil and gas on alleged corrupt acts.
In a statement signed by the Assistant National Secretary, Akorede Opeyemi and dated January 12, 2022, a copy of which was given to Persecondnews.com, the union restated its commitment to press freedom and the protection of journalists and urged members to be guided by the Code of Ethics of the NUJ and be wary of individuals and entities who are allegedly “doctoring statements of accounts and have photographed buildings, commercial and residential of some public officials as being corrupt either for personal gains or vendetta.
“While we applaud the commitment of credible groups to expose corruption and demand accountability, we are not unmindful of the antics of a few for personal gains.
“If any group feels strongly and are certain of their facts, they should petition the various anti-graft agencies and even approach the courts for an Order of Mandamus to compel the government to act,’’ the union stated.
The NUJ recalled that an individual who claimed to be a journalist was fingered in the siege at the home of a Supreme Court of Justice.
It reminded media professionals of the legal implications of acts that bother on criminal defamation and libel and the “willingness of these individuals and groups to use the journalists as expendable in the event of legal challenge.’’
The NUJ warned journalists that liability for libelous publications is not limited to the original author or publisher of these individuals and groups.
“It also extends to and includes all those who, out of sheer ignorance, mischief or malice or all, cause any libelous publication to be repeated, reposted or republished either personally or through any platform for which they have no control.
“It is in this regard that the union will not expend energy and scarce resources on matters that ordinarily should have been guided against.
“However, the union will not shirk away from any cause(s) of witch-hunt or harassment and intimidation of any of its members doing their legitimate jobs,’’ it said.