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NUJ, others seek protection for journalists as attackers kill 44 Nigerian practitioners

By Sunday Aikulola, Jesutomi Akomolafe (Lagos), Matthew Ogune and Ameh Ochojila (Abuja)
03 November 2021   |   4:05 am
As the world marked the 2021 International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists yesterday, Chairman of Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Lagos State Council, Adeleye Ajayi, urged the Federal Government and security agencies...

A journalist being harrassed on duty

•Want past attacks reviewed, perpetrators prosecuted
As the world marked the 2021 International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists yesterday, Chairman of Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Lagos State Council, Adeleye Ajayi, urged the Federal Government and security agencies in the country to end further attacks and reopen investigation of past assaults on media practitioners.

He made the appeal at an event, organised by publisher of Safety Watch Magazine, Dr. Chinyere Amaechi, to celebrate the event in Lagos.

This is even as the European Union (EU) confirmed that 44 Nigerian journalists have been killed this year alone.

The EU Delegation Representative, Wynyfred Achu Egbuson, made the disclosure at a media roundtable in Abuja.

Earlier in his welcome address, Executive Director, International Press Centre (IPC), Lanre Arogundade, disclosed that the body’s monitoring and advocacy activities in the area of press freedom and safety of journalists in the last four years (2016-2020) revealed a total of 150 press freedom violations and attacks against journalists in the country.

Continuing, the NUJ chair, who was represented by his deputy, Mrs. Abiola Beckley, also implored the government to look into cases of those journalists kidnapped and detained, as well as make efforts to apprehend the perpetrators.

Recalling media practitioners murdered in the line of duty, Adeleye said: “We remember Bayo Ohu of The Guardian, Godwin Agboroko of ThisDay, Dele Giwa of Newswatch magazine, Edo Ugbagwu of The Nation.”

He continued: “We also remember Abdul Ganiyu Lawal, a freelance broadcast journalist, Ikechukwu Onubogu, a cameraman with the Anambra Broadcasting Service, Lawrence Okojie of the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) in Edo State and Famous Giobaro, a Desk Editor with Glory FM in Bayelsa State, among others.

“Other journalists murdered are Enenche Akogwu, Fidelis Ikwuebe, Nathan Dabak, Okezie Amaruben, Onifade Pelumi, Precious Owolabi, Sam Nimfa-Jan, Samson Boyi, Sunday Gyang Bwede, Tunde Oladepo and Zakariya Isa.”

While calling for an end to impunity on media practitioners, he said media organisations must strongly emphasise objectivity, fairness and patriotism.
On efforts to check misinformation and fake news, Adeleye said the union would not hesitate to sanction perpetrators appropriately.

The organiser, Amaechi, tasked security agencies on fairness in their operations.

An occupational health and safety management expert, Dr. Ehi Iden, charged media owners on welfare of workers.

IN the same vein, the Media Rights Agenda (MRA) charged the government to establish a specialised team of prosecutors to facilitate the effective investigation and prosecution of perpetrators of crimes against journalists and other media workers for Nigeria to fulfill its regional and international treaty obligations to ensure the safety of journalists.

In a letter to the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, MAbubakar Malami (SAN), MRA’s Executive Director, Edetaen Ojo, said the move was consistent with the spirit of this year’s celebration, which “focuses on the instrumental role of prosecutorial services in investigating and prosecuting not only killings, but also threats of violence against journalists.”

ALSO yesterday, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) reiterated the need to show maximum respect, cooperation and support to journalists in the course of their constitutional responsibility of holding the government accountable to the people and informing and educating the public.

Its Executive Secretary, Tony Ojukwu, who spoke in Abuja, observed that journalism has remained the oxygen of democracy, adding: “Even during the military era, journalists stood firm in defence of freedom despite intense harassment and intimidation by the then military authorities.”