The International Press Centre (IPC) on May 11, 2022 launched two documentaries and a publication on attacks on journalists to commemorate the 2022 World Press Freedom Day. The event, held in Abuja, also featured a stakeholders’ roundtable on protection for journalists during periods of national crisis or public emergencies
The first of the documentaries and the publication are titled, ‘Voices from Covid-19 Frontlines’ while the second documentary is titled ‘Voices From #EndSars Frontlines’. They capture the molestation of journalists and arson on media outlets during #EndSars protest and COVID-19 lockdown.
Ms Stella Nwofia, IPC’s Programme Manager, said in a statement earlier on that the two-in-one-event was conceived by the organisation to bring stakeholders together to examine sustainable frameworks and mechanisms for halting media repression, stop impunity for crimes against journalists and guarantee the safety of journalists, amidst concerns over the shrinking of the civic space in Nigeria.
IPC Executive Director, Lanre Arogundade, said in his welcome speech, that though the theme of this year’s celebration is “Journalism Under Digital Siege,” IPC focussed on another dimension of siege on journalism and the media in Nigeria, which is the lack of protection for journalists whenever, by the nature of their professional calling, they become front liners during moments of national crisis or public emergency.
Lanre said when these situations arise and journalists brave the odds by throwing themselves into the mesh, they do so not for adventurism, but because they are the societal watchdog who have the obligation to provide credible information that government and citizens can rely upon to make desired interventions to resolve the crisis or bring the emergency under control.
He noted that by their responsibilities, journalists and other media professionals who find themselves on the frontlines get molested and harassed without recourse to remedial mechanisms hence Nigeria rates poorly in the World Press Freedom Index, with the country occupying an unenviable position of 120 in the year 2021, therefore, suggesting that the worst violations of journalists and media rights take place in the country.
Dr. Kole Shettima, the Director of MacArthur Foundation, delivering the keynote address pointed out that without a functional and independent media, there cannot be a functional democracy, adding also that media independence is important so that they can push for truth.
The NUJ President, Mr. Chris Isiguzo, noted that the environment Nigerian journalists operate in is not so friendly and advised the public and security operatives to see journalists as partners in progress and not rivals.
The representative of Alkali Baba Usman, the Inspector General, Chief Superintendent of Police (CSP) AI-Mustapha Sani, said in his remarks that the Police see journalists as ‘their best friend’, adding that there is need for more professionalism to interact with one another. He urged journalists to play their part in educating the citizens, so as to ensure that more genuine candidates join the police to ensure proper protection for all.
Mr. Aliyu M. Aliyu, Vice-President, Nigerian Guild of Editors; Mr. Raheem Adedoyin, Director, International Press Institute; Dr. Peter Afunanya, PRO, Department of State Services (DSS); Mr. Abdul Mahmud, Legal Practitioner; President of Radio, Television, Theatre and Arts Workers Union of Nigeria (RATTAWU), Mr Kabir Garba; and Mrs. Ladi Bala, President of the National Association of Women Journalists (NAWOJ) among others.
The programme featured the participation of journalists and editors, media organisations, media professional bodies and associations, media regulatory agencies, press freedom organisations, media and digital rights organisations, security agencies, government representatives, legal practitioners, human rights organisations, foreign missions and international development organisations.