NIGERIA: As Journalists across the world celebrate World Press Freedom Day, the Nigerian government has been urged to create a conducive environment for Media practice in the country.
This was the keynote in messages by most civil organizations whose mandate revolve around journalists in Nigeria.
The organizations observed that there have been many cases of impunity against the media and journalists in the country which needs to be stopped.
In a press statement by ActionAid Nigeria, the organisation called on the Nigerian government to uphold its commitment to creating a safe and favourable environment for Human Rights Defenders, Journalists and Civil Society.
The Organization wants the government and other stakeholders in Nigeria to use the opportunity of World Press Freedom Day to take action towards improving the country’s appalling record of repression of the media and journalists.
The Organization stresses the need for the Federal Government and the governors of the 36 states and the FCT to make strong commitments to end attacks on the media and journalists
ActionAid further called on the Nigerian Broadcasting Commission (NBC) to review some of the stringent terms and conditions which seem to be gagging or threatening press freedom and the rights to freedom of expression by citizens.
The Country Director, Ene Obi noted that “The freedom of the press is one of the essential cornerstones of a democratic society. But, in Nigeria, there has been a consistent and dangerous attempt by both state and non-state actors to breach not only local and international statutes guaranteeing the essential freedom of expression but to expurgate and censure the media and journalists while doing their legitimate duties”.
ActionAid Nigeria, a humanitarian non-governmental organization working to promote human rights, combat poverty and all forms of injustice in Nigeria.
Journalists for Christ (JFC)
Journalists for Christ urged media professionals in Nigeria to ensure access to verified and reliable information for the people.
In a statement by JFC President, Lekan Otufodunrin, said the theme for this World Press Freedom Day 2021 “Information as a Public Good” is very apt considering the urgent need, more than ever before, to ensure that people have access to the right information at all times.
Expressing worry over the level of misinformation and disinformation, Otufodurin noted that Journalists need to do more in tackling misinformation and other harmful content.
“New media technologies have enhanced freedom of expression, dissemination and access to information, but the level of misinformation and dissemination have become worrisome.”
“Fake news has become the order of the day with much false information and harmful content being disseminated regarding the COVID-19 pandemic and other major crises”.
“In line with the statement by UNESCO Director-General, Audrey Azulay, this year’s celebration should call attention to the essential role of free and professional journalists in producing and disseminating this information, by tackling misinformation and other harmful content.
“In this regard, the media in Nigeria and worldwide needs the necessary freedom and support to be able to play its expected role in properly informing and educating the public”, he said.
Journalists for Christ (JFC) is an Association for Christian Journalists and allied professionals in Nigeria.
Media Rights Agenda (MRA)
The Media Rights Agenda (MRA) called on the federal government to put mechanisms in place to ensure ease of access to information for citizens.
According to the organization, such mechanisms should be aimed at improving the level of compliance by public institutions with the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act in different critical areas.
The statement read, “Although Nigeria has a Freedom of Information (FOI) Act, its implementation is far from satisfactory as compliance with the provisions of the Law across government has been poor.
” This is why we are asking the government to put mechanisms in place for the effective implementation of the Act to enhance the ability of citizens to access information, which is a public good.”
In a statement signed on behalf of the organization, its Programme Director, Mr Ayode Longe also seek the creation of a conducive environment for journalists and media workers to safely carry out their professional duties.
“Self-censorship can also exacerbate the spread of misinformation and harmful content as journalists and media houses, in fear of their safety, increasingly refuse to fact-check information or carry out investigations into stories but rather leave citizens to depend for their information on available self-publishing platforms, which frequently push out unverified news and information.”