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Attacks on journalists: Media group asks FG to take stronger action against perpetrators

Attacks on journalists: Media group asks FG to take stronger action against perpetrators
November 02
22:24 2022

The Media Rights Agenda (MRA) has called on governments at all levels to fulfill their obligations to ensure the safety of journalists.

The organisation also asked the government to investigate all attacks against media practitioners and punish the perpetrators of such attacks.

Ayode Longe, programme officer of MRA, spoke in Lagos on Wednesday during an event to commemorate the 2022 International Day to End Impunity for Crimes Against Journalists.

Longe said taking against perpetrators would send a strong signal to those who attack journalists that they can no longer do so with impunity.

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The MRA programme officer said 10 years after the United Nations came out with the plan of action on the safety of journalists, Nigeria has not taken any concrete action to stem such attacks.

He said the increasing level of attacks against media practitioners and organisations in the country ought to be a source of concern for everyone.

According to Longe, MRA has recorded dozens of attacks against journalists over the years, but not much has been done on ensuring justice for persons who fall victim.

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He said, in the last one year, MRA collated and documented over 47 incidents of attacks against journalists, media workers and media houses.

“In the course of their work, journalists are arrested and detained, assaulted and beaten, abducted, have their equipment and gadgets confiscated and, in some cases, destroyed, have their operations disrupted, among other form of attacks,” he said.

“MRA’s records showed that men of the Nigerian police are the major perpetrators of the attacks against journalists as MRA had documented over 15 of such incidents in which they were the perpetrators, with armed hoodlums and political thugs coming a close second.

“It is ironic that the Nigerian police and other law enforcement and security agents that Nigerians should be relying on to protect journalists and the media from attacks by political thugs and other bad actors, are themselves the worst culprits.

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“In the last six months, MRA has recorded at least six such incidents where journalists were accused of criminal defamation, cyberstalking, or such other offence by the law enforcement agencies acting on the biddings of politicians.”

Longe described the continued use of the provision of the cybercrimes act to harass journalists and other citizens as “a brazen disregard” for the decision of the ECOWAS court, and a violation of Nigeria’s treaty obligations, and an unjustifiable disrespect for the court.

He urged the federal government to develop and adopt mechanisms to protect journalists and ensure their safety and security.

He also called on members of the public to take an interest in the safety of journalists and do everything within their power to help protect them, and ensure that perpetrators are brought to justice.

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This story is published in partnership with Report for the World, a global service program that supports local public interest journalism.

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