• Monday, May 27, 2024
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FG restates commitment to protect journalists’ rights as US accuses Nigeria of censorship

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On the occasion of World Press Freedom Day 2024, the federal government has reaffirmed its commitment to safeguarding journalists’ rights and fostering ethical journalism practices within the nation.

During a Ministerial Press Briefing held in Abuja on Friday to commemorate the day, Mohammed Idris, the minister of Information and National Orientation expressed these sentiments.

The briefing was also graced by the presence of Iziaq Salako, the minister of State for Environment, and Abdourahamane Diallo, the UNESCO country representative for Nigeria.

The event, themed “A Press for the Planet: Journalism in the Face of the Environmental Crisis,” was convened by the Ministry of Information and National Orientation.

However, the United States in its latest report titled “2023 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices: Nigeria,” accused the Nigerian government of censorship of the media.

“While a large and vibrant private press frequently criticized the government, authorities controlled much of the television and radio programming through the National Broadcasting Commission, which was responsible for monitoring and regulating broadcast media. Cable and satellite transmission was less restricted,” the US Department of State stated in the report.

The US also accused the Nigerian authorities of harassment of journalists, stating that, “There were reports security services detained, harassed, and threatened journalists, or stood by as others attacked journalists. Security services detained, harassed, or attacked at least 14 journalists during national elections on February 25 and attacked 28 more during state elections on March 18.”

The report noted that the government uses defamation, which is a criminal offence, to arrest journalists.

“On July 27, police arrested radio journalist Chinonso Uba, popularly known as Nonso Nkwa, for statements insulting Imo Governor Hope Uzodinma. On August 18, a court ordered his release, and authorities complied on August 29,” the report highlighted.

Also, the 2024 World Press Freedom Index by Reporters Without Borders ranks Nigeria 112th globally, noting improvements but also significant challenges for journalists, including government interference, especially during elections, and restrictive laws.

According to the report, economic hardships in the media sector lead to corruption, while violence against journalists remains high, with recent elections seeing numerous attacks. Crimes against journalists are rarely punished, and surveillance and intimidation by authorities are common.