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Press Freedom Situation In Nigeria - Why Is It Important?

Press freedom is the abilty of journalist, reporters or any individual willing to contribute with reporting situations freely and without any treath for doing that action.

Nigeria is one of the most important countries in Africa but the press freedom situation is among the worst in the world.

Assassinations of journalist, kidnap, censorship in social media and radio station and newspaper being closed is a hard situation that the reporter and people are facing today while trying to report news in the country.

In this article we will review why is press freedom in Nigeria important, why is Nigerian goverment attacking journalist, examples and what we can expect in terms of changes that may or may not improve press freedom in the country.

Twitter Ban And Protests

Koo, Twitter's Indian counterpart, has recently begun advertising to Nigerians with the help of a powerful brand ambassador: President Muhammadu Buhari.

Buhari banned Twitter from Nigeria more than two months ago in response to the social media firm deleting a provocative tweet from Buhari threatening violence against followers of a secessionist movement in the South East.

Endorsing a certain media firm is only the latest step in the government's relentless effort to stifle free speech.

Last month, Nigeria's media regulator, the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), sent a letter to broadcast stations in the country, instructing them to downplay the country's deteriorating security situation, particularly the threats posed by Boko Haram and banditry.

National Broadcasting Comission (NBC) defended its stance by claiming that reporting on these situations tends to incite greater violence. This theory may be plausible if the government hadn't been gradually curtailing free speech rights.

Nigerian People In a Protest to Stop Sars Reform
Nigerian People In a Protest to Stop Sars Reform

Nigeria, One Of The Worst Countries In Press Freedom

According to Reporters Without Borders' World Press Freedom Index, Nigeria is placed 115th out of 180 nations.

Is There Some Examples Of Violence Agaisnt Journalism?

Three Journalist Agaisnt Assasinated In 2019

In 2019, three journalists were kidnapped and illegally detained for their efforts to expose wrongdoing.

They were Cross River Watch's Agba Jalingo, SaharaReporters' Omoyele Sowore, and Dadiyata, a strong social media opponent of President Muhammadu Buhari and others.

The 2019 Election Campaign

The campaign for the elections in which President Muhammadu Buhari obtained another term in 2019 was marked by an unprecedented level of disinformation, especially on social media, much of it the work of officials within the two main parties

Independent Newspapers Censorship

With over 100 independent newspapers, Africa's most populous country boasts true media plurality, yet exposing issues involving politics, terrorism, or major financial theft is extremely difficult.

Government authorities, police, and occasionally even the general people deny journalists access to information.

Regional Pursuits

Regional governors, who are all-powerful, are frequently their most zealous persecutors and act with perfect impunity.

Radio Station Closure In 2018

After a series of headlines criticizing his management of local issues, one governor ordered part of a radio station demolished in 2018.

Blogger Detention In 2015

In an attempt to discover his sources, the authorities held a journalist for many days. A 2015 cyber-crime legislation restricts online freedom by allowing journalists and bloggers to be arrested and prosecuted at will.

National Broadcasting Comission And Social Media Censor

Following the Twitter suspension, NBC urged all Nigerian social media platforms and internet broadcasting service providers to apply for a broadcast license.

Following that, a contentious modification to the NBC Act was introduced, aimed at suffocating media firms.

All of Nigeria's main media organizations have launched massive demonstrations in response to these acts, with each station running a front-page ad arguing against excessive media control in the nation.

Nigerian People in a Protest Against Police Violence
Nigerian People in a Protest Against Police Violence

What Are The Consequences Of Press Freedom Attacks In Nigeria

Restrictions on free expression pose considerable obstacles for civil society in a political context where the government has demonstrated a penchant for authoritarian behavior. Failure to publish news freely might result in a system in which the government decides what is true and what is false.

This has serious implications, especially for a country that is currently confronting its most serious security issues since the 1967 Civil War.

Nigeria's North East area has been the scene of an insurgency for almost a decade, resulting in the deaths of over 40,000 people and the relocation of over two million people.

The conflict's terrible impacts are still felt throughout the region, particularly among women, children, and other vulnerable populations.

Meanwhile, banditry is endemic in the country's North West area, with more than 2,000 individuals kidnapped since January, including hundreds of schoolchildren.

The regular reporting on these conflicts informs citizens about the intensity of the wars and its effects on Nigerians. People may use this information to keep pressure on their government to handle insecurity more effectively.

Moves to reduce conflict reporting in the country mute millions of victims who would otherwise have no voice at the national level, and diminish their pains to save the administration from shame.

Why The Complicated Political Situation In The Country Worsen This Attacks

The incapacity of the Buhari government to control the country's insecurity is just growing worse.

Calls for self-determination are developing in the South West, while an insurgency is brewing in the South East, led by advocates of a revived Biafran separatist movement.

Nigerian media repression appears to be a desperate attempt to keep Nigerians unaware of how little the government has been able to deliver on its pledges to reduce insecurity.

Will Press Be Free In Nigeria In The Future?

There is little reason to believe that if the government succeeds in its current assault on journalistic freedom, it will cease any time soon.

With general elections coming up in two years, rules and restrictions restricting the media may make it difficult to report on voting irregularities, especially if they are committed by the ruling party.

Some claim that the increased focus on suppressing free expression is part of the ruling party's strategy to consolidate power ahead of the general election.

Many allies of the government have suggested that inaccurate reporting of conflict news on social and mainstream media might aggravate longstanding divisions in the country, leading to individuals taking law enforcement into their own hands.

While this is a possible danger, it should be noted that the government currently has laws in place to combat it and penalize those who violate them.

Nigerian Goverment Office Building In Ibadan
Nigerian Goverment Office Building In Ibadan

Conclusion

President Buhari claimed that democracy is the best path to national progress and promised to "work the democratic system conscientiously. That never happen.

Rather than continually eroding journalistic freedom, the government's priority should be on enforcing the rules but nowadays the situation is just getting wort. I hope to see a better situation but only the time will tell what will happen with press freedom in Nigeria.

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