In a bold move, the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has taken legal action against President Bola Tinubu, filing suit number FHC/L/CS/1766/23 at the Federal High Court in Lagos. SERAP’s lawsuit comes in response to the recent revocation of accreditations of 25 journalists and media houses who had been covering events in the Presidential Villa in Abuja.
SERAP is seeking “an order to direct and compel President Tinubu to reverse the revocation of the accreditations and ban on 25 journalists and media houses from covering the Presidential Villa.” This legal action challenges the ban’s legality, necessity, and proportionality.
The suit, represented by lawyers Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa, SAN, Kolawole Oluwadare, and Ms. Valentina Adegoke, emphasizes the vital role the media plays in upholding freedom of expression and access to information in a democratic society. It argues that the withdrawal of journalists’ accreditation tags violates media freedom, human rights, and citizens’ right to access information about their government.
The banned journalists come from a variety of media outlets, including Vanguard newspaper, Galaxy TV, Ben TV, MITV, ITV Abuja, PromptNews, ONTV, and Liberty. Most of the affected individuals work as reporters and cameramen for broadcast, print, and online media.
The lawsuit references Nigeria’s constitution, particularly Section 22, which guarantees the freedom of the mass media to uphold the fundamental objectives of the country’s constitution and hold the government accountable to the people. It also cites Section 14(2)(c) of the Constitution, which ensures the people’s participation in their government in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution.
As the case unfolds, no specific date has been set for the hearing. SERAP’s legal action underscores the importance of safeguarding press freedom and the public’s right to information in a democratic society.