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’41 attacks’ on journalists in Nigeria between January and August

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More than 40 attacks on journalists in Nigeria have been recorded between January and August 2020, an analysis by the International Press Centre (IPC) has revealed.

Melody Akinjiyan-Lawal, IPC programme officer (journalists safety), disclosed this on Monday, during a webinar organised by the centre in collaboration with the Association of Communication Scholars and Professionals of Nigeria (ACSPN).

The webinar had as its theme, “Edo/Ondo Elections – The Imperative of Safety Consciousness and Conflict Sensitivity in Media Coverage and Reportage”.

Citing some instances in which journalists were targeted, Akinjiyan-Lawal said the nature of the attacks included unlawful arrest/detention, physical assault, harassment, threat to life, battery, and damage of gadgets.

IPC listed some of the journalists attacked as Alex Ogbu of The Regent African Time magazine who was shot by policemen in the federal capital territory (FCT) on January 21 — he eventually died — and Eyo Charles of Daily Trust Newspaper, who was verbally assaulted by Femi Fani-Kayode, a former minister of aviation, while participating in a media briefing in Cross River on August 20.

Also cited was Vincent Ake, general manager of Tide Newspaper in Port Harcourt, Rivers, who was reportedly sacked for publishing a report on the first case of COVID-19 in the state on March 26.

Ake’s sack was said to be based on an allegation that he did not get approval from the Rivers task force on COVID-19 before publishing the report.

“Statistics from IPC’s journalist safety desk revealed that in the last eight months of this year, not less than 41 cases of attacks on journalists have been recorded,” Akinjiyan-Lawal said.

A breakdown of the figure showed that 35 males, five females and one media organisation have been at the receiving end of assault in 2020.

“Journalists need to take into cognizance that nothing has changed much in the way and manner our politicians view elections as a do-or-die affair,” she added.

“In this regard, it is important for journalists to situate their role and interest in the context of the two major stakeholders — the politicians and the people.”

Journalists were counselled to be non-partisan in the performance of their duties, handle classified information with care and deal peacefully with security officials.

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