Media Rights Agenda (MRA) today condemned last month the renewed onslaught on the Nigerian Press by the Goodluck Jonathan Administration with the arrest of newspaper workers, detention of media vehicles, confiscation of thousands of copies of newspapers and other forms of harassment in different parts of the country.
In a statement in Lagos on June 7, 2014, MRA’s Executive Director, Mr. Edetaen Ojo, said it was shocking that rather than address the real and pressing security challenges facing the country, which has resulted in most citizens living in perpetual fear, the Federal Government had chosen to chase shadows by unleashing its military and security agencies on the media.
Mr. Ojo said: “We are not at all persuaded by the Federal Government’s excuse that the action of its security forces in obstructing the operations of media workers all over the country and harassing them for no legitimate reason, is a routine security exercise. There can be nothing routine is such widespread and systematic violation of the rights of media workers and the flagrant breach of Nigeria’s international obligation to respect and uphold the rights of its citizens, including the media.”
According to him, “It is ironic that the Federal Government, which is already facing severe and virtually unanimous public criticism for its incompetent response to the dire security situation in the country, has chosen to further alienate the media and the general population by using the excuse of fighting terrorism to harass innocent citizens and violate their rights under the Constitution and under international Law.”
Mr. Ojo advised the Federal Government to be mindful of the fact that no amount of media harassment and repression can make Nigerians blind to the fact that their Government has been completely unable to protect them.”
He also noted that “it was quite sad that the Jonathan Administration has learnt nothing from the history of the media in Nigeria, particularly the lesson that the Nigerian press cannot be suppressed as the most repressive military governments that ever ruled this country failed woefully and totally in their efforts to suppress the media.”
MRA urged the Federal Government to call its security forces and law enforcement agencies to order, warning that their actions would only reinforce the already widely held view by both the international community and Nigerian citizens that this is a lawless government which acts with impunity and muzzles the media.