From Teryima Ajijah, Jos
President, Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Mr Chris Isiguzo, has said more than a hundred journalists lost their jobs in the last one year, due to economic hardship created by COVID-19 pandemic.
Mr Isiguzo made the disclosure on Tuesday, via an online meeting anchored in Abuja, and viewed by journalists across Nigeria as part of activities to commemorate this year’s World Press Freedom Day, set to be officially marked Wednesday 5 May, across the globe.
The Voice Correspondent in Jos joined the meeting in Plateau State, viewed at Univetsity of Jos Consult ICT Centre.
According to the NUJ president, most media organizations in Nigeria who could not cope with the economic hardship laid off many staff who are practicing journalists in Nigeria.
The NUJ president who lamented that Nigerian journalists are yet to fully begin to enjoy true press freedom in the country noted with concern that a high number of journalists practicing in the country are being molested, and harassed by political public office holders without adequate compensation.
He added that most journalists in Nigeria have lost their lives through the deadly acts.
Deputy Commissioner of Police and Force Public Relations Officer (FPRO) Mr Frank Mba, in an address at the online meeting on behalf of the Inspector-General of Police, Usman Alkali Baba, said journalists in Nigeria have taken the risk in informing and educating Nigerians about COVID-19, which led to death of many.
The IGP explained that many journalists in Nigeria lost their lives during the peak of COVID-19 pandemic. He reiterated that the nature of risk journalists take in informing the public during unrest was similar to that of the police who in most cases get killed in the line of duty.
The police chief noted that various conflicts by bandits, kidnappers and many other criminal activities have been the challenge in the country. He sued for support for fair journalism in Nigeria.
Other speakers at the online meeting also alluded to the fact that the COVID-19 pandemic has sent most people out of business.
The meeting advocated a free press to enable journalists prevail on public office holders to be accountable to the citizenry to ensure good governance.
It was gathered that a public lecture to officially mark this year’s World Press Freedom day is billed to hold in Abuja, on Wednesday, with a lecture to be delivered by the Speaker, House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila.
A press release endorsed by the National Secretariat of the NUJ, signed by the Assistant National Secretary, Midat Joseph, stated that the event shall discuss the welfare of journalists in Nigeria.
“Activities to celebrate this year’s World Press Freedom Day are scheduled to hold at Ladi Kwali Hall, Abuja Sheraton Hotel and Towers on Wednesday, May 5th, 2021 at 6: pm.
The Speaker, House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila will deliver a lecture on Press Freedom, Democracy and Good Governance,” It stated.
About 22 journalists in Plateau State participated in the meeting in Jos.