The Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE) Thursday urged the federal government to create a ‘harmonious working atmosphere’ for journalists to operate in order for President Goodluck Jonathan’s Transformation Agenda to be realised.
This came as the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) highlighted Nigeria and Brazil as among the worst offenders for violence against journalists as well as failure to bring culprits to justice, according to AFP.
In a statement signed by the President of the NGE, Mr. Femi Adesina, to mark this year’s World Press Freedom Day, said it was imperative for government and other stakeholders should see “the media as partners in development.”
Adesina noted that it was unfortunate that rather than commend the media as “worthy allies in the nurturing of our democracy and quest for a great country,” it had continued to receive uncomplimentary remarks from those who should know better.
According to him, “successive administrations in Nigeria have always treated the media with suspicion, if not as some sorts adversary. Nigeria robust and vibrant media has a worthy history of commitment to noble causes and played key roles in the struggle for independence, democratic rule, social justice, freedom of speech, human rights and the like…the media is still in the vanguard of upholding all that is noble, just, fair and indeed all that would redound to the progress and development of Nigeria.”
While pointing out that the recent developments in the country have reinforced an uneasy relationship which often exists between government and the media, the NGE president urged the government to resist “anything that might bear the slightest semblance to curtailment of the freedom of the press, either overtly or covertly.”
Meanwhile, CPJ, which is a New York-based media rights group, issued its annual Impunity Index headed once again by Iraq, which has been a particularly deadly place for journalists since the US invasion in 2003, even if murders are currently in decline.
There are “more than 90 unsolved journalist murders over the past decade and no sign that authorities are working to solve any of them.”
Other long time mainstays on the list include Afghanistan, Colombia, Mexico and Sri Lanka.
“Although Colombia has had modest success in solving murders, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, and Mexico have failed completely in the prosecution of numerous past slayings. These law enforcement failures often lead to another pernicious problem: widespread self-censorship,” the group said.
The CPJ especially cited Nigeria as “one of the worst nations in the world for deadly, unpunished violence against the press.”
At least five journalists have been murdered because of their work since 2009 and Nigerian press freedom activist Ayode Longe told the CPJ that sloppy investigations have “emboldened others to assault journalists, believing nothing would be done to them.”
The violence comes after a decade of relative security for journalists and the country enters the index for the first time, ranked 11, the CPJ said.
Another country taking a backward step, according to the CPJ, is Brazil, which moved up from 11th to 10th place on the blacklist.
Brazil “seemed to have turned the corner as recently as 2010, when it briefly dropped off CPJ’s Impunity Index because of declining attacks and a number of successful prosecutions.
“But a three-year spree of murders many targeting provincial bloggers and online reporters, and all unsolved has shown the gains there to have been illusory,” the CPJ said.
It said provincial towns were the most dangerous places because local groups with power over the police and judiciary were able to go unpunished, while in some cases the authorities themselves attacked journalists.