The Paris-based media watchdog, Reporters Without Borders (RSF), in its latest annual report on World Press Freedom ranked Nigeria as 111th out of 180 countries.
The 2015 World Press Freedom Index shows Nigeria moving up four points from its previous ranking but still noted that information is “becoming an increasingly rare commodity” in Nigeria as the Islamist rebel group Boko Haram continues to terrorize the northeast of the country.
The Index measuring press freedom and freedom of information describes the state of the press as one in a “difficult situation,” and cites Boko Haram as “winning the information war in the rest of the country in as much as the government tolerates no discussion of security issues”. It also noted that journalists have repeatedly been denied access to the trials of Boko Haram members and when orders are defied, newspaper issues are seized or distribution is obstructed.
The Press Freedom Index is an annual report which reflects the degree of freedom that journalists, news organizations, and media outfits enjoy in each country. It also looks at the efforts made by the authorities to respect and ensure respect for this freedom.
Also noted in the report was that “There are few checks on the power wielded by state governors in this very decentralized country as the deputy editor of the Sun, a newspaper in the southeastern state of Abia, was arrested at his home in the middle of the night in March 2014 and was held arbitrarily on a charge of ‘seditious publications’ against the governor with intent to bring him into ‘hatred or contempt’,”
On abuses, Nigeria’s abuses score was 45.00 where no score means that no significant cases were registered. The abuses score reflects the intensity of violence and harassment to which journalists and other news and information providers were subjected during the year.
The index pointed out the negative impact of conflicts on freedom of information and its protagonists. The report identified Finland as the freest country in the world for journalists to operate for the fifth year running, followed by Norway, Denmark and Netherlands. The bottom three countries where freedom of information is non-existent are Turkmenistan, North Korea and Eritrea which seem to continue to be news and information black holes and living hells for journalists working there.
The report also indicted strong democracies like the United States and Britain for not serving as good examples in respecting the rule of law. It pointed to instances of the United States’ government crackdown on Wikileaks and efforts to track down whistleblowers and sources of leaks as measures preventing free flow of information. Falling down 13 places from last year’s ranking, the United States is now ranked 49th.
Also noted, was both the United States and United Kingdom authorities seeming obsession with hunting down whistleblowers instead of adopting legislation to rein in abusive surveillance practices that negate privacy, a democratic value cherished in both countries.
Nigeria’s best ranking so far was in 2002 when it was ranked 49 of 134 countries.
The full lists as well as links to the individual reports can be assessed on the RSF website. See more at http://en.rsf.org.