Reporters Without Borders (Reporters sans Frontières RSF), the Paris based international organization that promotes and defends freedom of information and freedom of the press, has ranked Nigeria 122 out of 180 countries in its 2017 World Press Freedom Index released on April 16, 2017.
The report indicates a downward slide in the respect for press freedom in Nigeria from its 2016 ranking. In 2016, Nigeria ranked 116.
The RSF 2017 World Press Freedom Index which it referred to as ‘the ever darker world map’ shows an increase in the number of countries where media freedom situation is very grave and highlights the scale and variety of the obstacles to media freedom throughout the world. The map shows that media freedom is proving to be increasingly fragile in democracies as well. RSF noted that in sickening statements, draconian laws, conflicts of interest, and even the use of physical violence, democratic governments are trampling on a freedom that should, in principle, be one of their leading performance indicators.
Nigeria falls into the group of countries that made the RSF’s bad news – “that media freedom is in the worst state we have ever seen.” According to the document announcing the 2017 ranking, “media freedom has retreated wherever the authoritarian strongman model has triumphed. Democracies began falling in the Index in preceding years and now, more than ever, nothing seems to be checking that fall. RSF’s “global indicator” has never been so high (3872). This measure of the overall level of media freedom constraints and violations worldwide has risen 14% in the span of five years.”
According to RSF report on Nigeria, it is nearly impossible to cover stories involving politics, terrorism, or financial embezzlement in Nigeria, noting that journalists are often threatened, subjected to physical violence, or denied access to information by government officials, police, and sometimes the public itself.
The all-powerful regional governors are often journalists’ most determined persecutors, RSF submitted. As Africa’s most populous nation, Nigeria nonetheless has more than 100 independent media outlets. Online freedom was recently curbed by a cyber-crime law that punishes bloggers in an arbitrary manner, it concluded.