Experts seek justice for practising, killed journalists
Experts yesterday sought immunity for practicing journalists and justice for those that lost their lives in their line of duty.
This concern emerged yesterday in Lagos at a one-day symposium organised by Safety and Security Watch in commemoration of the United Nations Day for Safety of Journalists, a day set aside to end impunity of crimes against journalists.
The event attracted old and practicing journalists, as well as security and safety personnel.
Speaking, President, Nigerian Guild of Editors, Funke Egbemode, who was represented by Victoria Ubaha, noted that journalists were as endangered as soldiers on the field.
The only difference, she explained, was that whereas the soldiers have support from the Federal Government, journalists do not, adding, “Day in day out, many journalists are jailed, threatened, brutalised or even killed for doing their jobs.
“Unfortunately, their killers and attackers often go unpunished. This state of attack is worrisome, that no single attacker of journalists had been prosecuted. It, therefore, seems to us that the government has no interest in the society of journalists in Nigeria.”
Also speaking, Emma Agu, a former Editor of Champion Newspapers, in his keynote address, admitted that impunity could be reduced but cannot be totally eliminated.
His words: “Nigeria is like any other place in the world. Every profession has its own peculiar challenges. Measures like training and retraining of journalists to promote independence of judiciary and provision of insurance cover will help in eradicating some of these problems.”
Also, a former Safety Manager of Guinness Plc, Prof. Innocent Okunamiri, said the need to protect practising journalists in the country could not be over stretched.
He, however, advised that journalists must undertake a risk assessment before beginning any assignment, as this would help them to know if they are fit enough to undertake certain assignments.
“Good health is crucial; make sure you have enough sleep, good food and are in good shape physically before you embark on any assignment,” he said.
Bamiga Bamidele of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), said there was the need to ensure justice for every killed journalist, adding, “The relationship between journalists and agents of states must be strengthened.”
Bamidele advised every journalist to embrace the Association of Communication Scholars and Professionals, adding that the union would continue to advocate for the training and retraining of members for better quality discharge of duty.
Reference was made to Safety Monitoring Network, was launched in Abuja a few months ago to promote tolerance of diversity on issues and establish cordial relationship between journalists and state agents.
Get the latest news delivered straight to your inbox every day of the week. Stay informed with the Guardian’s leading coverage of Nigerian and world news, business, technology and sports.