The Human Right group, Citizen Advocacy for Social and Economic Rights (CASER), has issued a seven-day ultimatum to all private media houses owing journalists salaries and entitlements to offset their debts, or risk imminent liquidation.
At a Press conference organized at its headquarters in Abuja, the Abuja based advocacy group bemoaned the nonchalant disposition of private media owners in the country to the plight of journalists and their families.
Speaking at the conference tagged “UNPAID SALARY ARREARS, PENSION DEDUCTIONS AND ENTITLEMENTS OF WORKERS IN NIGERIAN PRIVATE MEDIA HOUSES; Frank Tietie , Executive Director of CASER,came hard on the defaulting print and broadcast media houses for not paying their workers.
“The welfare of media workers in Nigeria is in disarray, and it constitutes a threat to proper news gathering and production in Nigeria.” He said
He noted further that such an unwholesome circumstance against newsmen would constitute a breach from Nigerian citizens’ right to a free press in the country.
“It also constitutes a threat to the sustenance of democracy in Nigeria because Section 22, which imposes a constitutional duty on the Journalist to report news in such a manner that will hold government accountable to the people would be defeated:
“If a journalists can no longer hold its ground by being independent, but to now practice journalism based on stomach infrastructure.
“A journalist is now being driven by who gives him money to determine what he publishes. This is a threat to democracy and affront to the right of citizenry to fair reporting.” He said
While issuing the seven-day ultimatum to the media houses to pay or face with various legal proceeding, Tietie, a renowned radio presenter said the civil society group will approach the court to seek the liquidation of the media organizations due to their non-commitment to the welfare of their staff.
“Therefore, why we sounded this alarm is that, workers from ThisDay Newspaper Ltd, Daar Communications among others, informed us on the state of affairs in those companies that they were being owed Salary arrears, Entitlements and Pension Funds that were deducted, but not remitted to their retirement savings accounts.”
“They now retired but nothing to fall back on. Salaries and arrears being owed, entitlement as a result of contract of employment they don’t have. Pension deduction for their retirement savings account, they don’t have?”
“Is it a crime to be journalists?”