A 2021 Press Freedom report has disclosed that the media industry recorded seven unresolved killings, 300 violations affecting about 500 journalists, media workers, and media houses in Nigeria under the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari.
The report released by the Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) in collaboration with the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), said the development was of major concern to the union, as journalists and media organisations are targets of attack by both protesters and government.
Presenting the report on Wednesday in Abuja, the Executive Director, Citizen Advocacy for Social and Economic Right (CASER), Frank Tietie, said actions like these only bring back unpleasant memories of the long tenure of military rule and the established culture of intolerance against the media when Nigeria recorded her most grievous crimes against the industry.
The report said the nation was witnessing actions that seek to undermine the profession by both state and non-state actors.
It said Nigeria is fast gaining notoriety for its failure to tackle impunity for crimes against journalists including killings.
The report read in part: “For example, in 2017, four journalists were killed in separate incidents with no credible inquiry yet to find the culprits and their motive for the fatal attacks. The four were Ikechukwu Onubogu, a cameraman with the Anambra Broadcasting Services; Lawrence Okojie of the Nigeria Television Authority (NTA) in Edo State, Famous Giobaro, a desk editor with Glory FM in Bayelsa State and freelance broadcaster, Abdul Ganiyu Lawal in Ekiti State.”
It also noted that clamping down on the media was a sign of weak democracy and a restive government and it is instructive to note that a free and open press is part of the bedrock of democracy and development, adding that they should be encouraged and sustained.
President of NUJ, Chris Isiguzo, who decried the incessant attacks on journalists in the country, said the safety of journalists goes beyond killings and physical assault but also include the absence ofarbitrary arrest, resorting to exile to escape repression, harassment, destruction and confiscation of equipment and premises, and self-censorship in media.