ICIR, others condemn continuous attacks on Nigerian journalists

THE Coalition of Whistleblowers Protection and Press Freedom (CWPPF) has condemned continuous attacks on journalists and called on the Nigerian government to prioritise the protection of media workers in the country.

This was contained in a statement jointly issued by the members of the CWPPF, including the International Centre for Investigative Reporting (ICIR).

The group described the recurring attacks as a source of concern.

“This rising incidence of attacks against journalists raise concerns for the protection of citizens’ rights, the ability of the state to ensure effective governance, and the statutory obligation of the news media to hold the government and state officials accountable as required by the 1999 constitution,” the statement said.

The statement also noted that the Nigerian government was involved in the abuse and humiliation of journalists, citing the suspension and fining of a Hausa programme by Vision FM “Idon Mikiya” as an example.

“This is a gross abuse of power, a trend that consistently shows that Nigerian journalists are not protected but are consistently humiliated and abused while discharging their duty as prescribed by the 1999 constitution, as amended.

“CWPPF is concerned about the threat against unity and democracy in Nigeria.  We, therefore, call on the government to provide adequate security and protection for all journalists in Nigeria, especially while performing their statutory duty,” the statement added.

On Tuesday, February 1, some journalists from Channels and Arise TV were attacked at the Apapa and Tin Can ports in Lagos.

On January 27, gunmen also attacked the head office of This Day newspapers in Utako, Abuja, and threatened to kill staff members during the operation.

Beyond attacks by gunmen, the Nigerian government under the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari has sustained an attack against media freedom through its agencies.

The National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) had come under severe condemnation in July 2021, following its directive to media organisations to stop reporting details of insecurity in the country.

In May 2021, NBC had imposed a fine of five million naira on Channels TV.

The Commission had alleged infraction of the NBC code by the television station after an interview with the spokesperson of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) Emma Powerful on its programme Politics Today.

    Very recently, Vision FM had also been fined the sum of five million naira and its programme ‘Idon Mikiya,’ suspended for discussing the controversy surrounding the re-appointment of the Director-General of the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) Rufai Abubakar.

    Nigeria ranked 120 on the World Press Freedom Index in 2021, and has been described as one of the most dangerous and difficult countries for journalists in West Africa.

    Besides The ICIR, other members of CWPPF are Premium Times, OrderPaperdvocacy Initiative,The Cable, Daily Trust Newspaper, Wole Soyinka Centre for Investigative Journalism and Centre for Journalism, Innovation and Development (CJID).

    Others are African Centre for Media & Information Literacy (AFRICMIL), Civic Media Lab, Civil Society Network Against Corruption (CSNAC), International Press Centre (IPC), Media Rights Agenda (MRA), Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Paradigm Initiative, Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) and HEDA Resources Centre.

    Ijeoma Opara is a journalist with The ICIR. Reach her via [email protected] or @ije_le on Twitter.

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