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Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Minister of Information discusses journalist harassment and detention, assures resolution of issues

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The Minister of Information, Mohammed Idris, says the federal government is working to “resolve” the issue of the detained journalist, Ojukwu.

Mr Idris stated this on Saturday night at the NUJ Press Freedom and Good Governance Awards in Abuja.

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Mr Ojukwu, a journalist with the Foundation for Investigative Journalism (FIJ), was abducted by the police on 1 May and has been in detention since then.

The abduction of the journalists, whose newspaper recently published some stories on corruption involving the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) and some individuals, is generating considerable backlash against the government.

“I know that we have had some challenges, especially in the last couple of weeks concerning one journalist who has had some problems with the security agencies. That problem has been solved or is being solved. I’m being reminded by someone today that there is another one. We are also working to resolve one,” Mr Idris said.

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The minister said the government is committed to press freedom and promised to release the detained journalist

He added that President Bola Tinubu’s administration is determined to ensure that the work of journalists “will continue unhindered and interrupted”.

The minister said the government is committed to press freedom and promised to release the detained journalist

He added that President Bola Tinubu’s administration is determined to ensure that the work of journalists “will continue unhindered and interrupted”.

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Attacks on journalists

Safety of journalists has been a significant concern in Nigeria with many instances of harassment, abduction and even deaths.

In March, Segun Olatunji, the editor of FirstNews newspaper, was abducted from his home in Lagos, South-west Nigeria, on 15 March. Hours later he safety blindfolded and flown ito Abuja on a military aircraft.

He was detained for 14 days by the government and only released following pressure from the International Press Institute, the Nigerian Guild of Editors and the Nigeria Union of Journalists.

The Centre of Journalism Innovation and development (CJID) recently released a report that shows that 1,034 journalists have been attacked across Nigeria from 1986 to 2023.

Often, the Nigerian government uses the Cybercrime Prohibition Act 2015 to arbitrarily arrest journalists.

Honouring brave journalists

Meanwhile, the NUJ, at the Saturday ceremony, gave awards to journalists who have suffered different forms of attacks in the course of duty.

Mohammed Salisu, the founder of WikkiTimes, was also celebrated for some of his investigative reports in the last couple of years.

“Salisu’s commitment to exposing corruption has led to severe repercussions, including multiple legal challenges and physical threats,” NUJ stated.

Another journalist with Daily Nigerian, Umar Audu, who exposed the certificate racketeering syndicate in universities in Cotonou, Benin Republic, was awarded the Anyim Ude Prize for the best investigative reporter of the year.

Some of the other journalists honoured at the ceremony include; Adekola Bamgbala a photojournalist; Gabriel Idibia, the head of Daybreak Newspaper; Edwin Philip of Breeze FM Lafia, Nasarawa State; Paulina Vana of NTA Borno and Tayo Ikujinni of News Agency of Nigeria.

READ ALSO: World Press Freedom Day: FG restates commitment to protect rights of journalists

Speaking on the challenges journalists face, the NUJ president, Chris Isiguzo, explained that the union decided to honour the journalists with the message that press freedom is not a political privilege.

“Tonight, as we gather to honour the brave men and women who have dedicated their lives to the pursuit of truth, justice, and freedom, let us also reaffirm our commitment to press freedom and good governance. Let us recognise that press freedom is not a privilege but a right, not a luxury but a necessity,” Mr Isiguzo said.

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