Press Freedom And The Need To Protect Our Journalists

Journalism is indispensable and disastrous. It is one of the most famed engagements in Nigeria as at today though not too known for its bottlenecks especially during the administration of Major General Muhammadu Buhari whose disposition about peaceful protests, media coverage and social media communications or opinions is peculiarly a cold one.
The culture of victimizing courageous journalists whose progressive reports are objective enough to suffix for the conscience of the masses did not start today. From the military era to what we currently celebrate as democracy, lone promoters of the pristine values that define the profession are being subjected to various forms of victimization and oppression. Babafemi Ojudu, Dapo Olorunyomi, Bagauda Kaltho, Ken Saro Wiwa and so many others are the specimen upon which this terribly wild experiments have been carried out by successive governments in the country.
Interestingly, a lot of war journalists have been wasted. Lekki mass protests and its attendant massacre must have led to the death of a few journalists (bloggers) from unknown media organisations. A journalist in the context of the law is not just the fellow who attended a Mass Communication school or the Institute of Journalism. He is the man who has a platform via which he disseminates verified information and practices his citizen journalism. Section 39(1) of the Nigerian constitution (as amended) maintained that “Every person shall be entitled to freedom of expression, including freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart ideas and information without interference.” Subsection 2 of it says: “Without prejudice to the generality of subsection (1) of this section, every person shall be entitled to own, establish and operate any medium for the dissemination of information, ideas and opinions.”
Really, the idea of curtailing supposed insurrections which ordinarily have always been peaceful processions of the frustrated Nigerians, should not be as violent as it is being haven. A country approached the Nigerian government on the need for the country to explore less disastrous weapons in curtailment of civil disobedience recently but no, the Nigerian government never keyed into that idea. But they could brutally murder journalists whose calling it is to bring the story to the people’s doorstep.
Statistics have disclosed that not less than 12 and 13 journalists were brutally murdered in active service around 2012 and 2013 respectively. Another one exposed it that 63 percent of journalists covering politics were brutally murdered in 2012 while 51 percent of the ones covering war were also murdered. A Vanguard House of Representatives Reporter, Tordue Salem, was reportedly murdered by one Clement Itodo, a taxi driver in October, 2021. A latest report by the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) disclosed how Somalia tops the list of the countries indulging in a cannibalistic and predatorial actions against journalists in the world.
This is despite the fact that a total of 276 journalists have been murdered in 10 years while 81 percent of the murders remain unsolved. The perpetrators have been walking freely without being punished. Of recent too is the murder of one Toba Adedeji, a correspondent of The Nation newspaper, Mr. Frank Mba, the Police Public Public Relations Officer while outlining few of the issues the Nigeria Police has with journalists, he maintained that “an average journalist sees an average policemen as lawless, corrupt, unfriendly, liar, drunk, thief, killer, unsympathetic and incompetent.”
He hypes it that “unprofessionalism, blackmail and falsehood kills the Nigerian journalist, adding that lifestyle, dictatorial government, unsafe work environment, level of security consciousness and other environmental and sociological factors also hamper effective journalism.” I consider a radical revolution in the ways journalists are being treated in Nigeria necessary. This is as it isn’t a crime to be a
journalist. Imagine the untold hardship caused the Nation’s newspaper, including the immediate family of the deceased Toba. Every right-thinking Nigeria should clamour justice for Toba Adedeji whose murder alongside a non-journalist should be pursued to a definite conclusion. The trigger-happy cop (s) must be brought to the full consequence of his or their action.
Moreso. It is of tremendous importance for a committee of intellectuals to look into these remote factors and also recommend initiatives that will not continually make journalists endangered species in any system. The committee will be expected to recommend the immediate release of journalists proven to have been victimized for exposing the corrupt data of our venal politicians and also bring justice for all oppressed journalists. This is the way to a resounding Nigeria.

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