MRA Pays Advocacy Visit to Punch, Seeks Support for ‘Safety of Journalists’ Project

From Left, Mr. Temitayo Jayieola, Editor, Punch Newspaper; Mr. Idowu Adewale, MRA’s Communications Officer; Ms Chioma Nwaodike, MRA’s Programme Manager, Legal; Mr. Segun Fatuase, MRA’s Director of Projects; Mr.Ademola Oni , Reporter, Punch Newspaper

As part of its efforts to create awareness within the media community about its ”Safety of Journalists and other Media Workers” project, a team from Media Rights Agenda (MRA), led by its Director of Projects, Mr Segun Fatuase paid a courtesy visit to The Punch newspaper  on  April 27, 2021, at its headquarters in Lagos. 

As part of its efforts to create awareness within the media community about its ‘Safety of journalists and other media workers project’, a team from Media Rights Agenda (MRA), led by its Director of Projects, Mr. Segun Fatuase paid a courtesy visit to Punch Nigeria Limited, on Tuesday, April 27, 2021 at its headquarters along the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway.

Others members of the team were Ms Chioma Nwaodike, Programme Manager, Legal at MRA and Mr. Idowu Adewale, its Communications Officer. The team was received by the Punch Editor (Daily), Mr. Ademola Oni.

Mr. Fatuase, noted that under the project, which is supported by the Global Media Defence Fund (GMDF) and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), MRA will provide pro bono legal assistance and litigation support to journalists in Nigeria whose rights are threatened or violated in the course of carrying out their professional duties or because of their work in a determined bid to ensure a safe environment for them to effectively carry out their work.

He added that the project will also go a long way to combat the culture of impunity on the part of state and non-state actors who are not sanctioned for perpetrating the attacks on journalists and media workers.

Mr. Fatuase disclosed that MRA had collated incidents of attacks on the media from 1986 when Dele Giwa, a celebrated journalist, was murdered, to date. He pointed out that MRA records show that from 1986 when Dele Giwa was killed by a parcel bomb up until when Obasanjo took over in 1999, at the commencement of the present democratic regime, 7 journalists were killed while during the present civilian regime from June 1999 till date, MRA recorded 17 journalists killed. He said this increase in the attack on journalists is a thing of concern to MRA hence it embarked on the project to bring perpetrators of attacks on journalists to justice and thereby ensure a conducive atmosphere for media practice.

Ms Chioma Nwaodike, on her part, explained that MRA has a network of seasoned lawyers ready to litigate cases on behalf of journalists whose rights have been violated.

Mr. Oni commended the initiative taken by MRA to assist journalists whose rights are threatened or violated to seek redress through litigation. He noted with regret that the culture of impunity for crimes perpetrated against journalists has continued to be on the rise.

He cited the case Punch Nigeria Limited had, when its photojournalist Oludare Jaiyeola, was assaulted by a police officer while he was covering a protest in Maryland, Lagos State.

The Editor said that the journalist was hit on the head with a baton, and became unconscious as a result of the impact.

According to him, “we didn’t institute a lawsuit because the state Commissioner of Police, Hakeem Odumosu, apologised and punished the officer for improper conduct as well as took care of the journalist.”

Briefing packs containing relevant information about the project were presented by the MRA team to the staff of Punch Nigeria Limited during the visit.