True freedom of speech is freedom after speech not freedom of expression – Governor Okorocha

Against the constitutional provision of freedom of expression for both the media and individuals, Governor Rochas Okorocha of Imo state, on Friday said that the real freedom to be enjoyed is freedom after speech and not the freedom of speech on which people hold onto sp as to make statements or publish issues that are damaging to people and governments.

Represented by his commissioner for information, Professor Nnamdi Obiaraeri, at the ongoing national convention of online media practitioners association of Nigeria (OMPAN) at Imo Trade and Investment Centre, Owerri, Okorocha said he is not comfortable with the manner with which the online media practitioners go about their media practice even as he said that anarchies now masquerade as democrats.

The governor said: “When you own an online platform, it is not for you to cyber stock people and do all those kind of blackmailing things to get money out from people. The damage you can do is enormous”, insisting that the national body should take its members on legal execution and educate them on the true practice of journalism.

He maintained that the execution should bother on the working of the cybercrime Act 2015, “because there is a law that regulates what you do, what you must not publish and how you must not publish, because if you are not prepared to play by the rules, you cannot exist in a civilized community.”

According to him: “Freedom after speech is the real freedom of speech. For any freedom you have to pay something for is not freedom,” pointing out that a good number of online media practitioners now pay prizes for some unfounded publications.

In his words: “Freedom of speech is not a lascivious weasel to lampoon the integrity of others. You must do developmental journalism and interface because part of what we must do is that you must recognize that the website or that blog that you are hosting is been read in Australia,” noting that information already published cannot be retrieved, adding: “once you make any update, be sure that it must be a responsible update that will encourage the Nigerian socio- economic development.”

He called on OMPAN to draw strength from the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) and the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), which have regulatory bodies backed by law from the Nigeria National Assembly.

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