The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), has raised the alarm over a myriad of challenges ranging from “intimidation and assassination” Nigerian journalists face despite being critical agents for the protection of democracy and development.
In a statement to mark the World Press Freedom Day on Tuesday, executive secretary of the NHRC, Tony Ojukwu, who described journalists as the oxygen of democracy, said “Nigerian journalists have fought very hard to achieve our democratic status and deserve a better deal unlike the current situation where many of them struggle with poor conditions of service.”
The Commission added that journalists in the country faced a lot of challenges which include censorship, intimidation, harassment and in some cases, assassinations, even though their constitutional duties are enshrined in the constitution.
“Their constitutional duty is enshrined in Section 22 of the 1999 Constitution as amended which is inalienably, ‘to hold the government accountable to the people;’ this right distinguishes them as those who perform essential duty to the nation,” he stressed.
Ojukwu added that with Nigeria currently at crossroads, the press would be needed to ensure justice, equity and fairness to stabilise the country’s democracy.
“The press must defend democracy by its commitment to holding our governments accountable to the truth always no matter the difficulties of the times.
“This year’s theme, ‘Journalism under digital siege’, is apt as it seeks to bring to the fore, the impact of the digital era on the freedom of the press, the security of journalists and access to information and privacy,” he said.
Ojukwu further noted that it was an incontestable fact that the advent of the internet and boost in digital communication had benefited humanity in various ways, but stressed that it has also threatened people’s right to privacy as virtually nothing is hidden from the internet radar.
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