10 Years After, NASS Fails To Provide ID Cards To Journalists

Needed: Sustainable Local Democracy

National Assembly (NASS) has been unable to produce identity cards (ID) for journalists covering the parliament, LEADERSHIP.

The last ID cards were issued during the tenure of Senator David Mark as Senate President (2007–2015) and Salisu Maikasuwa as the clerk to the National Assembly.

During the leadership of Sen Abubakar Bukola Saraki as Senate President (2015-2019) and Mohammed Sani-Omolori as clerk to the National Assembly, journalists were asked to undergo a capturing process after their ID cards expired, following the necessary documents and screening.

“Only a few journalists were captured, while others either used their expired ID cards or papers signed by the Sergeant-at-Arms and the director of information to gain access to the National Assembly,” a journalist familiar with the coverage of the National Assembly said.

Many journalists faced harassment from some members of the Sergeant-at-Arms, who often demanded money before allowing entrance due to expired ID cards or outdated papers.

When Senate President Ahmad Lawan assumed the chairmanship of the National Assembly in 2019-2023, accompanied by Olatunde Ojo as the clerk to the National Assembly, journalists and media houses covering the National Assembly were required to undergo a fresh accreditation process.

This process included providing a certificate of incorporation and a copy of the organisation’s income tax return for the last two years.

Furthermore, newspaper houses were required to demonstrate evidence of circulating at least 40,000 copies daily.

Other requirements included proof of incorporation, membership in professional bodies, a code of certification from the National Library, and proof of membership in the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) with a registration number, despite conflicting with the constitutional provision of the right of association.

Despite the stringent accreditation requirements, media houses and journalists submitted the necessary documents to the information department of the National Assembly. However, no printed ID cards were given, only papers signed by the Sergeant-at-Arms and the director of information with a lifespan of either six or nine months.

Under the leadership of Senate President Godswill Akpabio as the chairman of the National Assembly and Magaji Tambawal as the clerk to the National Assembly, journalists were called for a fresh accreditation process.

However, no ID cards were issued, only papers signed by the Sergeant-at-Arms and the Director of information were given to some journalists.

Even though some journalists passed the accreditation process and had their files cleared at the director of information office, they have not yet received the necessary papers for access to the National Assembly Complex.

A journalist who has covered the National Assembly for over 15 years expressed frustration, stating, “That’s what we’ve been facing. Year-in-year-out we keep supplying data at the information department for fresh accreditation, but only papers are given to us. Other people, including National Assembly staff, lawmakers, legislative aides, and commercial center workers, always receive ID cards while journalists are left at the mercy of overzealous Sergeant-at-Arms at the gate. The National Assembly management needs to provide printed identity cards to journalists who have provided every document for accreditation and have had a file opened for them. They should be called for capturing and not given papers that can easily get lost or damaged.”

While the National Assembly bureaucracy has not provided a reason for the delay in issuing ID cards to journalists after 10 years, concerns have been raised regarding the utilisation of funds allocated for ID cards for workers fulfilling their legitimate duties in the National Assembly.

Meanwhile, the secretary of Human Resources and Staff Development at the National Assembly, Birma Shuaibu Maina, has urged all staff to display their ID cards for easy identification.

Maina, writing on behalf of the Clerk to the National Assembly, Magaji Tambawal, stated that all staff members should always display their ID cards following an incident involving Dr. John Nnnaji – Clerk, Senate Committee on Petroleum (Upstream), Comrade M. C. Odo, and some DSS Personnel at the National Assembly Complex on Friday, 17th May, 2024.

Maina emphasised that the top management of the National Assembly is aware of the incident and has taken steps to address it.

He stated, “The Clerk to the National Assembly and the top management team visited Comrade Odo at the National Assembly Clinic and immediately called for an emergency meeting between the Management, Security Personnel, and PASAN officials. During this meeting, the unfortunate incident was discussed and unanimously resolved. The resolutions included working in harmony with the Sergeant-At-Arms, ensuring civil behaviour by all security operatives within the National Assembly Complex, and requiring all staff members to display their ID cards for easy identification.”

Maina appealed to staff members to remain calm, peaceful, and law-abiding, assuring them that the situation is under control following the incident involving the brutalization of some National Assembly staff who were unable to show their ID cards to security agents last Friday.


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