• Sunday, May 26, 2024
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Rights advocate urges Nigerian govt to safeguard journalists’ safety

journalists
The Federal and State Governments in Nigeria have been charged to take urgent measures to ensure media freedom and the safety of journalists in Nigeria, saying the deteriorating state of media freedom in the country is potentially harmful to its system of democratic governance.

Their call is contained in a statement announcing their collaborative activities to commemorate the 2024 edition of World Press Freedom Day (WPFD 2024) through separate events taking place in Lagos and Abuja on Friday, May 3.

According to the statement, Media Rights Agenda (MRA) and Global Rights: Advocates for Sustainable Justice, in collaboration with the International Press Centre (IPC) and the Centre for Media and Society (CEMESO), will hold a hybrid convening in Lagos under the theme: “The Imperative of Media Freedom for Democratic Governance”, to underscore the vital role that the media play in promoting transparency, accountability, good governance, and democracy.

The event will have media stakeholders drawn from among journalists and editors, media owners and managers, civil society organizations, the academia, and others participating physically and virtually and will include activities such as sharing of experiences by journalists who have faced various forms of attacks, a presentation on the importance of counselling for journalists who have been victims of attacks, as well as presentations on various civil society efforts to ensure the safety of journalists and protect media freedom, which are designed to strengthen the media as they strive to promote democracy, human rights, and social justice.

A separate event will be hosted in Abuja by Global Rights in collaboration with MRA and the International Centre for Investigative Reporting (ICIR). The event will be a Webinar titled “Freedom of the Press in Peril – Raising the Bar for Press Freedom in Nigeria”, which is aimed at sparking a conversation on how to safeguard press freedoms in Africa and how the operational environment for the press can be improved in Nigeria and across the continent.

The event will identify global best practices that create a conducive and enabling environment for the press and share experiences of how they can be domesticated in a way that makes them more easily accessible to journalists and other media professionals in Nigeria.

Proclaimed by the UN General Assembly in December 1993, World Press Freedom Day is celebrated around the world on May 3 every year as a reminder to governments of the need for them to respect their commitment to press freedom and create a safe and conducive environment for journalism and media practice.

Commenting on the collaborative efforts by the various organizations,  Edetaen Ojo, Executive Director of MRA, said: “As the world celebrates World Press Freedom Day on May 3, we wish to reaffirm our commitment to upholding the fundamental principles of free speech, independent journalism, and the protection of press freedoms worldwide knowing that a free and independent media is the oxygen of democracy.  We are determined to work with like-minded individuals and organizations towards the emergence of an environment where media professionals can carry out their professional functions without fear or intimidation and where the media can realize its true purpose.”

According to Lanre Arogundade, Director of IPC, “We recognize the challenges facing journalists and media professionals across the country, including censorship, intimidation, violence, and online harassment. In the face of these threats and attacks, we commend the resilience and courage of journalists who continue to pursue the truth, often at great personal risk. We also promise that we shall continue to render whatever support we can to ensure that the atmosphere is made conducive for them to ply their trade.”

Akin Akingbulu, Executive Director of CEMESO, said: “We take the opportunity of this important occasion to once again call on governments, civil society organizations, and individuals everywhere to join us in defending press freedom, protecting journalists, and ensuring that information remains a public good accessible to all. Together, let us stand united in support of press freedom and the fundamental principles of democracy.”