Nigeria dropped one place on the global press freedom index recently published by Reporters Without Borders (Reporters Sans Frontieres); with the press freedom group tagging Nigeria “a difficult situation”.
Of the 180 countries evaluated, Nigeria was ranked 120th; a drop from its 119 spot on the index in 2018.
Ghana also lost its spot as Africa’s best in terms of press freedom after Ahmed Suale, an investigative journalist with Anas Aremeyaw Anas’ Tiger Eye PI was murdered.
Namibia is now ranked Africa’s best.
“Threats, insults and attacks are now part of the “occupational hazards” for journalists in many countries,” RSF said.
“The hostility towards journalists expressed by political leaders in many countries has incited increasingly serious and frequent acts of violence that have fuelled an unprecedented level of fear and danger for journalists.”
In the case of Nigeria, RSF said governors are the most determined persecutors and act with complete impunity.
“Africa’s most populous nation has more than 100 independent newspapers and yet covering stories involving politics, terrorism or financial embezzlement by the powerful proves problematic,” it said.
“Journalists are often threatened, subjected to physical violence or denied access to information by government officials, police and sometimes the public itself.
“The campaign for the elections won by President Muhammadu Buhari in February 2019 was marked by an unprecedented level of disinformation – especially on social networks – which was spread by officials within the two main parties.”
RSF advised the Buhari-led administration to prioritise the defence of quality journalism in his second term.
In 2018, various sections of the Nigerian media witnessed a series of attacks including a military raid on Daily Trust Newspaper premises, the arrest of Samuel Ogundipe, a journalist with Premium Times, for refusing to disclose his sources.
In March, a private radio station was attacked in Gombe.
Jones Abiri, the publisher of Weekly Source Newspaper, was also re-arrested and subsequently released by men of the Department of State Services after being held in detention for two years.
He was first arrested in 2016 after he was accused of being the leader of the joint revolutionary council of the separatist group, Joint Niger Delta Liberation Force.