Media censorship, violence against journalists ‘abated under Buhari’ – Malami | #socialmedia

Nigeria’s Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, has said that the Muhammadu Buhari-led administration has reduced crimes against journalists in the country.

Mr Malami, who was represented by Jubril Gwandu, a media officer in the ministry, on Tuesday, in Lagos made the statement at a training organised by the UNESCO.

Media under Buhari

The three-day training is tagged “Workshop for state high court judges on freedom of expression and safety of journalists.”

“Government has also taken giant steps to curb impunity for crimes against journalists in the country and this explains why media censorship and violence against journalists in Nigeria has abated under this government,” Mr Malami said.

“The 2020 report of the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) indicated that Nigeria was the only country to get off the index of nations with impunity for crimes against journalists.

“This is another positive feather of development in the human rights record of the Government of President Muhammadu Buhari that calls for celebration. It is a re-enactment of the best practices in the conduct of the governance which characterizes the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR.”

The minister said the constitution guarantees freedom of speech, however, it is not absolute.

“Government expects that the press and other citizens should not exercise their right to freedom of expression in such a manner as would jeopardize or threaten national security and cohesion,” he said.

The actual picture

Nigeria is ranked 120 on the World Press Freedom Index 2021, a drop of five spots from its ranking in 2020. Reporters Without Borders describes Nigeria as “one of West Africa’s most dangerous and difficult countries for journalists.”

In a report titled ‘Journalism Under Digital Siege’ to mark this year’s World Press Freedom Day, the International Press Centre (IPC) said it documented at least 40 incidents of press freedom attacks on 49 journalists in 2021 in Nigeria.

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The group said those who committed the attacks included state governments and their agencies, State Security Service (SSS), Rapid Response Squad (RRS), Police Officers, State Police Commands, Nigeria Police Intelligence Response Team, Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), unknown gunmen, hoodlums, and private organisations.

A year earlier, the group had documented at least 48 cases of attacks on journalists and eight attacks on media houses.

“The reality is it is little or no justice or even compensation for the victims, while the perpetrators go scot-free,” said Lanre Arogundade, the Executive Director of IPC who, himself, was a victim of harassment by the SSS.

A report by the Premium Times Centre for Investigative Journalism (PTCIJ) stated that about 160 journalists were attacked in Nigeria between 2018 and 2020.

The attacks notwithstanding, the Nigerian government has remained undeterred in its efforts to censor the media through social media censorship.

‘Conducive environment’

Nuhu Yachat, a representative of UNESCO, said the training is focused on strengthening the rule of law and human rights by reinforcing the capacities and knowledge of judges on international laws on freedom of speech, “public access to information, and the safety of journalists, as well as on legal challenges to mitigate them.

“It is hoped that this would be a great step towards supporting the role of our judges in protecting and ensuring an environment conducive to freedom of expression, access to information and safety of journalists in Nigeria,” she added.

The Chief of Section, Freedom of Expression and Safety of Journalists, at the UNESCO Guilherme Canela urged the judges to use the international laws to question the national law.

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