Prof. Tonnie Iredia, speaking at a lecture marking the 2022 Press Week of the Nigeria Union of Journalists, Akwa Ibom State Council.

Abasifreke Effiong

Professor Tonnie Iredia has called for the amendment of the immunity clause in the 1999 Constitution to prevent the President and Governors from instituting legal cases against any person while in office.

Prof. Iredia said some serving Governors were seriously distracting themselves from their main responsibility of providing good governance to the people with court cases initiated in their period of office.

He said the purpose of Section 308 of the 1999 constitution which gives a serving President, the Vice President, Governors and Deputy Governors immunity against civil and criminal proceedings was to ensure that the persons occupying these offices are not distracted with court cases in the period of office.

Speaking in Uyo, at the 2022 Press Week lecture of the Nigeria Union of Journalists, Akwa Ibom state Council, Iredia, a former Director General of the Nigerian Television Authority and the National Orientation Agency, noted that the immunity holders are distracting themselves with court cases, hence defeating the essence of the immunity clause.

“I am calling for a change of Section 308 of the 1999 Constitution. The persons covered by the immunity under this section should not have the right to take people to court. This section protects the President and Governors from being distracted by any form of litigation, they should not be allowed to distract themselves by taking people to court”, he posited.

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Speaking on the topic, “Media as facilitator of good governance in developing societies”, Prof. Iredia said the Nigerian media have done well in providing information but it must improve its public education function to society, while calling on government to put an end to the misuse of the Cybercrime Act to intimidate, harass, and unjustly incarcerate journalists who criticise its policies and programmes.

“Nigeria cannot progress if government does not allow the media to hold it accountable to the people. It is therefore time to call for an end to the negative use of the Cybercrimes Act to suppress free media.”

He praised the Akwa Ibom State Council of the NUJ for adding intellectual content to its press week.

“I have seen an NUJ Council that is serious-minded… Akwa Ibom NUJ is prioritizing the intellectual content of Press Week. It is using the press week to energise [the] intellectual experience [of her members]”, Prof. Iredia.

The NUJ Akwa Ibom State Council led by Comrade Amos Etuk, has been consistent in making lectures and seminars a cardinal programme in its annual press week.

The theme for the 2022 press week lecture is, “Imperatives of the media on industrialisation and good governance”.