From Esther Akaa, Lafia
A Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) ActionAid Nigeria (AAN) has called on the Federal Government to create a safe and favourable environment for the protection of human rights for journalists and Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) in Nigeria.
The humanitarian NGO equally called on the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) to review some of its stringent terms and conditions threatening press freedom and freedom of expression of citizens so that their voices can be heard.
The Country Director of AAN, Mrs Ene Obi made the call on Monday in Abuja, while speaking on occasion of the 2021 World Press Freedom Day, with the theme: “Information as a Public Good,” saying the freedom of the press is essential in any democratic society, thus citizens should be given the freedom to express themselves without fear of intimidation.
Mrs Obi noted with dismay the consistent and dangerous attempt by both state and non-state actors to breach, not only local and international statutes guaranteeing the essential freedom of expression but to expurgate and censure the media and journalists while doing their legitimate duties.
The country director who quoted a report released by Premium Times Centre for Investigative Journalism (PTCIJ) on 13 November, 2020 said, “it was found that a total of 160 journalists were attacked in Nigeria between 2018 and 2020.
“The PTCIJ’s report indicated that the repression of the media and journalists in Nigeria ranges from physical attacks, arrests and detentions, unconstitutional legal proceedings, repressive laws, and cyber-attacks amongst others.
“In another recent report on Nigeria titled, “Climate of Violence,” Reporters Without Borders (RSF) ranked the country at 120th position in the 2021 World Press Freedom Index and stated that “Nigeria is now one of West Africa’s most dangerous and difficult countries for journalists, who are often spied on, attacked, arbitrarily arrested or even killed,” she said.
“At its last Universal Periodic Review (UPR) in 2018, the Nigerian Government had made a commitment to protect and promote freedom of expression, association, and peaceful assembly, and to create a safe and favorable environment for human rights defenders, journalists, and civil society.
“Unfortunately, these commitments have not translated to action by government as many cases of impunity against the media and journalists have led to the poor rating the country has received.
“More importantly, media proprietors must also ensure improved welfare package for journalists in Nigeria,” she stated.
Mrs Obi called on the government and other stakeholders to take action to improve on the country’s appalling record of repression of the media and journalists, even as she urged NBC to liberalise media social actions, noting that it was vital to access reliable information, especially in the current era of misinformation.
She, therefore, appealed to the Federal Government and governors of the various states of the federation to make strong commitments to end attacks on the media and journalists through the expansion of space for freedom of speech and respect for the rule of law.
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