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SERAP urges Buhari to withdraw gag order on reporting of terrorist attacks

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One of the parents of the abducted students of Bethel Baptist High School, reacts inside the school premises as parents pray for the return of their children whom were abducted by gunmen in the Chikun Local Government Area of Kaduna state, northwest Nigeria on July 14, 2021. – The girls are just two of the more than 100 Nigerian children snatched from Bethel Baptist High School nearly three weeks ago, herded by gunmen into the forests after a kidnapping raid on their dormitories.<br />The July 5 attack in Nigeria’s northwest Kaduna state was just the latest mass abduction at a school or college as kidnap gangs seeking quick ransoms zero in on soft target of young students.<br />Armed kidnappings for ransom along highways, and from homes and businesses now make almost daily newspaper headlines in Africa’s most populous country. (Photo by Kola Sulaimon / AFP)

Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has urged President Muhammadu Buhari to withdraw the directive banning journalists and broadcast stations from reporting details of terrorist attacks and victims.

The National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) had in a letter dated July 7, 2021, issued a directive asking journalists, television and radio stations in Nigeria to stop giving too many details on the activities of terrorists and kidnappers during their daily newspaper reviews.

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Reacting, SERAP in a letter dated July 17, 2021, signed by its deputy director Kolawole Oluwadare, said the contents of the directive by the NBC to journalists and broadcast stations are entirely inconsistent and incompatible with Nigeria’s obligations under Article 9 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

The organisation said: “We would be grateful if the repressive directive is withdrawn within 24 hours of the receipt and/or publication of this letter. If we have not heard from you by then, SERAP shall take all appropriate legal actions in the public interest.”

The body expressed concern that the directive would restrict the rights to freedom of expression, information, and victims’ right to justice and effective remedies that are central to public debate and accountability in a democratic society.

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