The former Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, on Sunday, charged journalists to be professional in the discharge of their duties by investigating their reports to avoid the spread of fake news.
The lawmaker who represents Enugu West Senatorial District in the National Assembly equally enjoined journalists to resist politicians who engage in campaigns of calumny, adding that issues must be based on facts.
He made the call when the new executives of Nigeria Union of Journalists, NUJ, Enugu State Correspondent’s Chapel paid him a courtesy visit at his Enugu residence.
He equally emphasized freedom of expression, describing it as pivotal for societal development.
“As a lawmaker, I have worked in different reform areas but one area that is of my interest in the area of freedom of expression. I believe citizens should be allowed to express their views because a society without freedom of expression is dead and cannot witness any development.
“I want to urge journalists to be professional while carrying out their duties. You must be moral in your job and engage in thorough investigative reporting.
“I have known most of you for years but I have never asked you to write anything against anybody. This is the kind of thing you should resist as we get to the 2023 elections. If someone comes to you and brings allegations, tell the person to back it up with facts.
“As you know, it’s easy for people to believe media reports. I had a zoom meeting with some Nigerians living abroad and they told me that there was a report that the Enugu Onitsha road project was awarded to me, in fact, that the money was given to me and I didn’t do it and that’s why the road is yet to be done, such report is false and does not make sense and that’s the major problem we have in our society.
“Also in 2015 when President Muhammadu Buhari came to office and they were looking for an opportunity to discredit me, a judge said I was given money to develop the South-East and I didn’t do it.
“So, if a judge who is supposed to be presiding over people’s affairs can have such ignorance or mischief, there is a big problem because they are just looking for ways to discredit us.”
“I want to advise that as a journalist, if you have such information about anybody, don’t rush to the press, carry on the discreet investigation before you publish,” he said.
Ekweremadu assured his readiness to institute an award on investigative reporting.
Earlier, the NUJ team led by Comrade Lawrence Njoku described Ekweremadu as a strong advocate for the development and betterment of Nigeria.
“We want to encourage you to continue with the good work of lending your voice for the betterment of this country, as well as your support for the media practitioners,” he said.