Press freedom and sustained attack on journalists

The media and its handlers, they say, stimulate actions from government and the masses for common good. This is apart from the general functions of the media to inform, educate and entertain. How well has the Nigerian press been allowed to operate seemlessly without been stifled by legal or power play? Each year the World Press Freedom Day is celebrated, one is forced to pause and ask this question: How free are journalists who practice in Nigeria and other parts of the world? There are sustained attacks on journalists in Nigeria.

Attack on Taiye Elebiyo Edeni, A female journalist by the police

On 4 January 2018, Taiye Elebiyo Edeni, a female journalist with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), was physically manhandled and wounded by police operatives during the presidential commissioning exercise at Kaduna Dry Port.  Although accredited to cover the inauguration of Nigeria’s first Inland Dry Port by President Muhammadu Buhari, Taiye, who is a Transport Correspondent with NAN was physically attacked by men of the Nigerian police. The assault caused her eyes to swell and bleed.

Arrest of Premium Times’ correspondent and publisher

Evelyn Okakwu, a judiciary correspondent and reporter working for Premium Times was arrested alongside her publisher, Dapo Olorunyomi on 19 January 2017. The arrests came days after Premium Times rejected the demand of the army to retract some news stories about the Nigerian Army and its operations. Police operatives in mufti, which conducted a search on the office shortly after the arrest, hinted that they were acting on a complaint filed by the Chief of Army Staff, Tukur Buratai. The duo were released on bail shortly after the Office of the President reportedly intervened.

Police officers molest female journalist over photos

On 27 October 2011, men of the Nigeria Police Force attached to the task force of the Abuja Environmental Protection Board (AEPB) on demolition exercise at Wuse area of the city, molested a female journalist, Michael Moye, the Abuja Bureau Chief of Daily Times Newspapers, for taking photos of the demolition exercise.  It took residents, colleagues and security operatives of African Times Network to rescue her as the policemen chased her and tried to manhandle her.The claim of the policemen was that she had no right to take photos of the demolition scene.

Arrest and harassment of Daniel Elombah

Anambra State-born publisher of, Daniel Elombah, was arrested by officers attached to the Special Anti-Robbery Squad, SARS, of the Nigeria Police Force.Daniel, who is also the General Secretary of the Online Publishers Association, OPAN, was arrested alongside his brothers from their family house in Edoji-Uruagu Nnewi, Anambra State in the wee hours of New Year Day in 2018. Information from the officers who had carried out the arrest was that Elombah had written a recent article, which was deemed critical of a Police boss. Elombah was initially taken to a SARS detention facility in Anambra, and later moved to Abuja.

The Wole Soyinka Centre for Investigative Journalism strongly condemns the harassments of journalists. This amounts to hampering of the freedom of the press. We maintain that no journalist should feel unsafe in discharging their constitutional duty. For our societies to be progressive socially, economically and politically, we must ensure that the freedom of the press is not hindered in any form.

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