By Obiejesi Kingsley
Nigeria has again gone further down the international press freedom index as the country was ranked 122 out of 180 countries.
The 2017 edition of the annual survey conducted by Reporters Without Borders, RSF, was released on Wednesday.
Nigeria’s press freedom ratings have been on a constant decline since President Muhammadu Buhari assumed office in 2015.
The country fell from 111 in 2015 to 116 in 2016 and has fallen again to 122 in 2017, entering the “red zone” for press freedom.
“In Nigeria, it is nearly impossible to cover stories involving politics, terrorism, or financial embezzlement,” the RSF said.
“Journalists are often threatened, subjected to physical violence, or denied access to information by government officials, police, and sometimes the public itself.
“The all-powerful regional governors are often their most determined persecutors. As Africa’s most populous nation, Nigeria nonetheless has more than 100 independent media outlets.
“Online freedom was recently curbed by a cyber-crime law that punishes bloggers in an arbitrary manner,” the survey further read.
Namibia, is the highest ranked African Country according to the survey, even though it fell 7 places from 17th place in 2016 to 24 in 2017.
“Namibia’s constitution guarantees free speech and protects journalists, but journalists are often the target of government threats.
“Critical journalists find a refuge on the Internet, where they are not subject to control, but self-censorship is common in the state-owned media,” the RSF said.
Ghana – 26, Cape Verde – 27, South Africa – 31 and Burkina Faso – 42 make up the first five African countries with the best press freedom records.
Equatorial Guinea – 171, Djibouti – 172 and Sudan – 174, are the worst ranked African countries.
Across the globe, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark and Netherlands are ranked the world’s top five countries.
The United Kingdom and the USA are ranked a lowly 40 and 43 respectively.
China, Syria, Turkmenistan, Eritrea and North Korea complete the rear on the list.
According to the survey, eight journalists have been killed across the world in 2017, while 193 are currently imprisoned.
None of the journalist killed is from Nigeria.
The release of the world press freedom rankings seem to have coincided with the incident at Nigeria’s Presidential Villa, where a newspaper correspondent was on Monday, April 24, expelled by the President’s chief security officer, over a report he had done which the presidential aide felt was “ill-intended”.
However, he was later recalled, and presidential spokesman Femi Adesina, issued a statement reiterating the President’s commitment to the freedom of the press.