The Nigerian Senate has barred at least 7 television stations in the country from covering its proceedings in the chamber, reducing the number of accredited TV stations to 5.
Those accredited are Africa Independent Television, NTA, Channels Television, TV Continental, and Silverbird TV.
This follows a similar move in January when the number of cameramen and photo-journalists covering the Senate was pruned down from about 40 to 13.
Officials have said the arrangement was done in order to decongest the Senate and establish an atmosphere of orderliness in the chamber.
The Senate’s action, however, did not sit well with the Press Corps, which quickly issued a statement signed by its Chairman, Cosmos Ekpunobi, explaining how the move by the Senate “precipitated cameramen boycotting proceedings on Thursday, thereby blanking out the Senate on a day lawmakers failed to pass the 2017 budget.”
The cameramen staged the walk-out alleging that the policy was another step to gag TV stations covering the red chamber.
They believe it is all part of a grand plan to eventually kick them out and then pave way for the National Assembly Television Station, which has gulped billions of naira, to take over with the sole rights to cover the plenary and send feeds to other TV stations.
The leadership of the Press Corps had on Wednesday met with the Clerk of the Senate with a view to iron out the issue, including the alleged misconduct by cameramen.
In that meeting, the leadership of the Senate Press Corps accepted to call erring members to order.
It was therefore shocked at the action of the Senate, which, right in the middle of engaging in dialogue to resolve the matter, went ahead to bar some TV stations from covering its plenary sessions.
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