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19 journalists attacked, AI report reveals

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A report by Amnesty International (AI) Nigeria in Abuja yesterday disclosed that no fewer than 19 journalists and media practitioners were attacked in the country between January and September this year, the highest since 2015.

The 40-page report, which analyzed a compilation of attacks on the press in Nigeria since 2015, explained how the attacks have contributed to the violation of other human rights in Nigeria.

These attacks take the form of verbal and physical assault, as well as indiscriminate arrests and detention by government and its actors.

AI noted that the violations were perpetrated by the Nigerian Police, Nigerian Army and Department of State Services (DSS), and occur mostly when journalists and media practitioners seek access to information, share information or express critical views that could drive public opinion.

Often times, dissenting views expressed by media practitioners are criminalized, particularly when revolve around sensitive issues

The report further revealed that six journalists, including bloggers, were arrested in 2018, while four were arrested in 2017 and that 16 journalists were arrested in 2016, while five were arrested in 2015.

Eight media houses, including Premium Times, were raided or harassed since 2015, while three journalists have gone into hiding, the report added.

Reasons for the journalists’ arrest included exposing corruption, election coverage and social media post critical of a governor, senator or other government officials.

The charges preferred against the journalists range from terrorism, sedition and treason to unlawful assembly, defamation of character, criminal conspiracy and unlawful assembly, among others, the report said.

Notable incidents in the report include that of Bayelsa State based journalist, Jones Abiri, whom the DSS arrested and detained for over two years without trial for publishing a story about oil blocks and politics in Nigeria.

Government declared another journalist, Ahmed Salkida, wanted for publishing an article and a proof of life video of the Chibok schoolgirls abducted by Boko Haram.

The recent case of a female journalist in Akwa Ibom, Mary Ekere, who was arrested and thrown into prison for taking photos of state task force officials raiding a shop, was also mentioned in the report, among many other cases.


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