© 2019 - International Centre for Investigative Reporting
NO IMPUNITY: Journalists gather to unwind, demand freer press
THE first International Day to End Impunity for Crimes Against Journalists was marked on November 2, 2013, in memory of Ghislaine Dupont and Claude Verlon, two French journalists killed while reporting in Mali earlier that year. Five years later, the story has not changed as journalists remain targets for embarrassments, illegal detentions and killings with the perpetrators, oftentimes, getting away with it.
The recent example of the state-sponsored gruesome murder of Jamal Khashoggi, a Saudi Arabian born US-based journalist, has sent cold shivers down the spine of many journalists across the world. Another example is that of 30-year-old Bulgarian journalist, Viktoria Marinova, who was brutally raped and murdered in early October.
So, to mark the 2018 day of no impunity against journalists in Nigeria, Reebot an international non-governmental organisation, in partnership with some media and civil society groups, organised a get-together for journalists and press lovers to unwind a bit while discussing the challenges they face in the course of doing their jobs.
Speaking at the event, Adam Talsma, Reebot’s Regional Director for Africa, commended journalists for constantly defying the odds and continuing to courageously hold the government accountable to the people.
Dapo Olorunyomi, the Publisher of Premium Times online newspaper, who was a keynote speaker at the event, said that the task of making Nigeria a country where the press is truly free is one that everybody should commit to.
He noted that “the founding fathers of Nigeria, most of them were journalists” and after the civil war that ravaged the country for 30 months between 1967 and 1970, the process of reconciliation was largely driven by the media, hence the need to ensure that journalists are free at all times to carry out their responsibilities.
Similarly, Dayo Olaide, a Deputy Director with the MacArthur Foundation in Nigeria, called for more support for journalists especially from the ordinary citizens whose interests journalists risk their lives to protect.
He cited an example with the case of Samuel Ogundipe, a reporter with Premium Times, who was arrested and detained for days by the Police for refusing to disclose his source but was released after an outcry and protests by citizens.
Ogundipe, being the most recent example of an attempt to stifle press freedom, and Taiye Edeni, a female reporter with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), who was punched in the eye by a policeman while covering the inauguration of the Kaduna dry port early this year, were also celebrated at the event.
Tributes were also paid to all the journalists in Nigeria who had paid the ultimate prize as a result of carrying out their lawful responsibilities.