From Tony John, Port Harcourt

The National Assembly has been urged to enact laws that would guarantee the safety of journalists in carrying out their professional duties in the country.

Chairman, Correspondents’ Chapel of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Rivers State, Amaechi Okonkwo, made the call at the opening ceremony of the Chapel’s Week, Monday.

Okonkwo noted the challenges faced by journalists in discharging their professional duties, which have made it difficult for them to operate at full capacity and provide the country with the benefits of their important services.

He said: “An empowered journalist is an investigative journalist and an investigative journalist is a developmental journalist, a catalyst to a free, egalitarian and progressive society, the type our nation is in dire need of at this time of its developmental history.

“So, we passionately plead that government at various levels, the National Assembly, media owners and practitioners should synergize to ensure that members of the fourth estate of the realm, indeed, come to their real estate in the realm.

“The NASS should as a matter of urgency consider legislation that would make journalists not only come to their real estate in the realm but are given the conducive atmosphere to professionally discharge their duties effectively to the country.”

The State Commissioner for Information and Communications, Mr Paulinus Nsirim, stressed the need for journalists to continue to hold public office holders accountable for their actions.

He admitted that journalists face some challenges from hoodlums even security agents.

The commissioner, who was represented by the Director, Public Enlightenment of the Ministry, Mr Celestine Ogolo, said the Governor of the state, Nyesom Wike, has granted unhindered access to information in the state.

Declaring the event open, Nsirim emphasized that the governor has done well in providing enabling infrastructures, adding that Rivers in future, will become a model to other states in the country.

In his speech, the Chairman of the event, Mr Ogbonna Nwuke, said the media will continue to determine the future of the society, as the Fourth Estate of the Realm.

Nwuke, who was a former member of the House of Representatives, commended the Correspondents’ Chapel for organising the press week, despite the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Source: news