The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has urged President Muhammadu Buhari to publicly condemn attacks on journalists and media organisations in the country.
SERAP made the call on Thursday in Lagos while unveiling a report entitled “Something to Hide?: Media Freedom Under Siege in Nigeria”.
Ripples Nigeria gathered that the event was attended by Femi Falana, the National Human Rights Commission, and other stakeholders.
The 76-page report was authored by a veteran journalist, Mr Richard Akinnola.
“The president should issue a public statement to all government and security force officials, prohibiting intimidation, threat, harassment, and arbitrary arrest of journalists and other media workers.
“He should ensure that such cases were investigated and prosecuted,” SERAP said.
It also pushed for immediate amendment of the Cybercrimes Act and some other legislation, to bring them in line with the 1999 Constitution as amended.
According to the report, 36 journalists were attacked between January 2019 and July 2019, with 30 of the attacks recorded during the 2019 General Elections.
SERAP further confirmed that Press Attack Tracker (PAT), a civic tech platform provided the statistics.
It claimed that 18 journalists were assaulted for covering the nationwide #EndSARS protest against police brutality in October 2020.
“The National Assembly had considered the passage of several bills that aimed to curtail freedom of expression such as the Protection from Internet Falsehood and Manipulation Bill 2019 (Social Media Bill).
“The lawmakers also considered passing the National Commission for the Prohibition of Hate Speeches Bill 2019 (Hate Speech Bill).
“Also, the National Broadcast Commission (NBC) had been wielding powers arbitrarily on broadcast stations and imposing excessive fines on them for alleged breaches,” SERAP noted.
According to the organisation, these actions hinder the media from performing its constitutional duty of being the watchdog of society.
By Mayowa Oladeji
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