As the world celebrates World Press Freedom Day, the International Press Centre (IPC) has raised concern over freedom of the press in Nigeria.
In a statement made available to our correspondent and signed by its communication officer, Olutoyin Ayoade, IPC, urged Nigerian government to “respect its commitment and uphold the right to freedom of expression as enshrined in Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the African Charter on Peoples and Human Rights.”
He said, “The International day is a day to reflect on issues of press freedom and professional ethics as well as to support journalists and other media professionals, who are often the targets of attacks on press freedom.
“It is worrisome that IPC has monitored and documented not less than 40 incidents of press freedom attacks on 49 journalists in year 2021 alone, while since 2020 the organisation has identified over 100 journalists and other media professionals who have been victims of surveillance, spying, harassment, threats, violence, assaults, battery, unlawful arrests, jailing, robberies, kidnappings, and suspected murder.”
IPC further noted that the acts are committed by governments and their agencies, Department of State Services (DSS), Rapid Response Squad (RRS), Police Officers, State Police Commands, Nigeria Police Intelligence Response Team, Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), Unknown gunmen, Hoodlums, Private Organisations, etc.
Taking into account the theme of this year’s World Press Freedom Day: “Journalism Under Digital Siege,” the Executive Director of IPC, Mr. Lanre Arogundade, remarked that the prevalence of press freedom infractions in the Country indicates that there is now an urgent need for media stakeholders to jointly identify and develop sustainable solutions including raising the standard of safety of journalists and media freedom in Nigeria.
“The reality is there is little or no justice or even compensation for the victims, while the perpetrators go scot-free, we must therefore all work together to fortify the safety of journalists and media professionals’ he said.
Mr. Arogundade said in order to promote the conversation, IPC will on May 11 launch two documentaries which will highlight IPC’s interviews with journalists and other media professionals who were victims of brutal press freedom violations during the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic induced lockdown and the #ENDSARS protests”.
According to him the public presentation of the documentaries will be followed by a round table discussion on protection for journalists during national crises or emergencies. Panellists and participants will include media practitioners, media organisations, media professional bodies and associations, press freedom organisations, media and digital rights organisations, security bodies, government representatives, lawyers, judiciary representatives, human rights activists and human rights organisations.