Amnesty International (AI) has warned the Federal Government about peddling hostility towards journalists.
The rights group said the government must ensure that journalists and other media professionals can carry out their job and operate without fear of reprisals.
AI Country Director, Osai Ojigho said that the clampdown by Nigerian authorities on the press, including by raiding media organizations and arbitrarily detaining journalists, is having a chilling effect preventing people from freely expressing themselves.
Ojigho stated this yesterday in Abuja, at the launch of the freedom of expression campaign titled, “press for freedom”.
She added that there is an increasing climate of fear across newsrooms in Nigeria as it becomes harder for journalists to do their job.
Her words, “There is an increasing climate of fear across newsrooms in Nigeria as it becomes harder for journalists to do their job. More and more, the authorities are responding to critical reporting with arrests, raids and intimidation. Journalists are coming under attack in Nigeria, facing increased risks simply for publishing articles and demanding accountability from the authorities. This is totally unacceptable. The authorities must immediately put an end to the hostile environment journalists are facing.
“We are therefore calling on the Nigerian authorities to respect and protect the right to freedom of expression. Journalists and other media professionals must be free to investigate, report and broadcast on issues of human rights and public interest. Furthermore, the authorities must immediately stop peddling hostility towards them and refrain from attacks against them and silencing dissenting voices. No one should be punished for asking questions or expressing their opinion.
“Verbal threats, harassment, intimidation, physical assaults, raiding of media houses, arbitrary arrests, and detentions are some of the human rights violations faced by journalists and other media professionals in Nigeria, undermining the enjoyment of the right to freedom of expression and media freedom – and they are on the rise.
“The Nigerian authorities must ensure that journalists and other media professionals can carry out their job and operate without fear of reprisals. The authorities should uphold the rule of law and respect, protect and fulfil human rights as well as fully implement in practice the Freedom of Information Act (2011).
“As a result of these attacks and the stifling of press freedom that journalists particularly are facing across the country, we are here today to launch Amnesty International Nigeria’s new campaign on Freedom of Expression.”
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