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Shi’ite protest: Civil and media groups call for justice for slain journalist

MEDIA and advocacy groups under the aegis of Coalition for Whistleblowers Protection and Press Freedom, CWPPF, on Tuesday, condemned the attack that led to the death of Channels TV’s reporter Precious Owolabi, and urged relevant authorities to investigate his death and ensure justice prevails.

In a statement, the coalition clamoured for safe spaces for journalists to effectively maintain their status in the society as the “fourth estate of the realm”.

“The death of the twenty-three-year-old Owolabi in the line of duty and the over 300 recorded cases of attacks on the press as reported by the Press Attack Tracker underscores the several demands that the coalition has made for better protection of journalists while performing their constitutionally guaranteed functions,” the statement reads.

Signatories to the statement include African Centre for Media & Information Literacy; International Centre for Investigative Reporting; The Cable; Sahara Reporters, Paradigm Initiative; Premium Times; Premium Times Centre for Investigative Journalism;OrderPaper; Daily Trust Newspaper; Media Rights Agenda; Civil Society Network Against Corruption;Civic Media Lab; International Press Centre; Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project and Wole Soyinka Centre for Investigative Journalism.

Precious Owolabi, a National Youth Service Corp member serving with Channels Television was killed by a stray bullet while covering the protest by members of the Shi’ites.

The group noted that the persistent attacks on journalists in the country constitutes a blight to press freedom and compromises the ideals of a democratic society

“The increasing attacks on journalists encroach on the freedom of the press and it behoves the government and other stakeholders to conscientiously work towards laws and provisions that will guarantee the safety and security of journalists in the line of duty.

“Failure to do this is a slight on any democratic society and a disservice to journalism, a profession that is fundamental to sustaining democracy,” the statement said.

Journalists in the line of duty, especially those covering conflict and humanitarian crisis should be provided with security kits.

The group, while commiserating with the bereaved family, urged relevant authorities to ensure justice is served in the case of the wrongful death Owolabi, and prosecute anyone involved to the full extent of the law.

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