Falana tasks media on Oshodi-Apapa Expressway gridlock


…Condemns recklessness of online media

By Olasunkanmi Akoni, Wahab Abdullah & Olayinka Latona

Lagos lawyer and human rights activist, Femi Falana, SAN, has expressed concerns over the intractable traffic gridlock along Mile2 – Apapa Oshodi Expressway, saying it was high time the government found permanent solution.

Falana, recommended that Lagos State Governor, Mr Akinwunmi Ambode could deploy part of the state’s soaring Internal Generated Revenue, IGR, towards  finding a permanent solution to the traffic problem in the axis.

The radical lawyer, as fondly called, made the remarks yesterday, while delivering a lecture on libel and defamation to Vanguard editorial staff at the newspaper’s headquarters in Apapa, Lagos.

From left: Mr. Eze Anaba, Editor, Vanguard Newspaper, Mr. Femi Falana, [SAN], Guest Lecturer, Mr. Gbenga Adefaye, GM/Editor-in-Chief Vanguard Newspaper, Mr. Donald Iyashere, Legal Officer and Mr. Ozah Michael Ozah, Legal Service Manager, during the Law of Libel Seminar organized by Vanguard Newspaper Management for Staff atVanguard Headquarter, Yesterday. Photo: Bunmi Azeez

Falana, who was billed to start his lecture at noon, got to Vanguard Headquarters one hour after because of the terrible traffic.

The Petroleum Tanker Drivers, PTD, Union, had severally attributed the traffic gridlock in the area to the continued decay of infrastructure as well as neglect of the deplorable road in the axis by federal and state governments.

According to Falana: “The Lagos State government said its Internally Generated Revenue IGR has risen to N26 billion per month. Where is the value for the increased IGR?

”I offer to take legal action if you (Vanguard media) so wish.

“On my way to this place, I experienced the serious traffic on the road and I just imagined if there was a fire outbreak, you might just imagine what would happen.

“Nigeria is the only country in the world where you can block a road just because you want to pray.

”Let us do something about your road (Mile 2-Apapa Expressway).”

Cautions on dangerous social media reports

Pix: Cross section of Participant Staff,during the Law of Libel Seminar organized by Vanguard Newspaper Management for Staff at Vanguard Headquarter, Yesterday. Photo: Bunmi Azeez

Falana, who also commented on the recklessness of some online media called on media professionals to pursue excellence in the practice.

He said: “The media profession is very important to the socio-political development of every society. The journalists did more  than any professional, group during the colonial days and the era of the military to save our democracy.

“Your job is now being made more difficult  by the recklessness of the guys operating in the social media.

‘’It is your fault – the Newspapers Proprietors Association of Nigeria, NPAN, Nigeria Guild of Editors, NGE, Nigeria Union of Journalists, NUJ – have failed to sit down, go back to the drawing board and check the recklessness of these guys in ensuring that dangerous materials are not published.

“For me, anybody that is going to publish anything using online channel, should have a registered website and we must be able to trace them. Technology has gone beyond  anybody  just writing down anything as website. The NUJ and other relevant bodies must go beyond their personal interest to protect all of us because we are all potential victims.”

He also spoke on the  recklessness of some newspaper columnists, saying some of them are hate preachers. For example, if 200 people die in certain circumstances and some columnists quote 800.

“Our country is in such a state that people can riot over anything, if your publication fuels riot, that could be very dangerous.

‘’Nobody dies a natural death in Nigeria, it is either the person was killed by the political opponent and before you know it, riots will erupt, such as happened recently in Ede, Osun State.

“Vanguard as a very reputable organisation must show the way, do away with people who can put you in trouble. Many of those who signed indemnity for you cannot pay when the need arises. You have to be careful because those who signed indemnity cannot pay if you are sued.

“As a reporter or editor, if you are in doubt about any publication, leave out,’’ he said.

Vanguard  lawyer on libel, defamation

Earlier, Vanguard Legal Services Manager, Mr. Michael Ozah said: “Our freedom of expression ends where the right to integrity and good reputation of others begins.’’

Describing defamation as an occupational hazard for publishers and journalists which is capable of eroding the economic base of a media house, Ozah in his presentation urged journalists to be wary of what they publish, including the source of their stories.

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Source: Vanguard