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Nigerian editors fret over growing spate of journalists’ abduction

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IGP condemns killing of officers in Rivers, orders heightened security

Say Cyber Crimes Act not enacted to persecute journalists

The Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE) has spoken strongly the increasing sequence of abduction and arrest of journalists in the country by security agencies, especially the Nigeria Police Force, under the guise of enforcing the Cyber Security Act, warning of consequence of such illegal actions on press freedom.

The professional body of media executives and senior editors also warned of the dangers of allowing certain territories of the Nigerian states falling into the hands of terrorists and bandits, and expressed optimism that the federal government has all it takes to flush out these enemies of the country, and guarantee peace and security of the country and its people.

The Guild stated these in a press statement issued and signed by its President, Mr Eze Anaba and the General Secretary, Dr Iyobosa Uwugiaren, at the end of its Standing Committee meeting in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital, weekend.

According to the Guild, ‘’The meeting deliberated on the state of the media with emphasis on the increasing spate of abduction and arrest of journalists in the country – under the guise of enforcing the Cyber Security Act, and warned of the implications of such illegal actions on press freedom.

‘’The professional body of media executives and editors while warning the security agencies, especially the Nigeria Police, against press freedom violation, called for a proper understanding and intention of the Cyber Security Act, declaring that the law was enacted as a legal framework for combating cybercrimes and not for persecuting journalists, who are performing their legitimate duties in a democracy.’’

The editors particularly condemned the method of abduction/arrest of journalists, the long detention and inhuman treatment they are subjected to, and said it was a negation of a democratic space.

‘’Press freedom is the ability of the media to report news and express opinion without government interference, censorship, or retribution. It is a fundamental human right essential for a healthy democracy, allowing citizens to access accurate information, hold leaders accountable, and participate in informed public discourse’’, the editors added.

The NGE noted the harsh economic ecosystem under which the media currently operates in Nigeria, and called on the federal government to ensure the sustainability of the media industry through robust economic policies and direct interventions that are capable of enhancing its capacity to transcend existing challenges.

Commenting on the state of the nation, the Guild congratulated the government on its one year in office and advised it to step up its fight against insecurity in certain parts of the country in order to flush out terrorists and insurgents, who have continued to perpetrate mayhem in some communities.

The NGE also decried the current high cost of living – exacerbated by the harsh economic policies and programmes of the federal government, and called for sustainable interventions to mitigate the several biting effects of the policies.

The Guild expressed its appreciation to the Rivers State Government for providing a conducive environment for the meeting and hoped that the current peace-initiative by the government will be sustained in the general interest of the people and development.

 

There has been a surge in the cases of police targeting journalists for doing their legitimate work in Nigeria in recent times, bringing back memories of the country’s military era.

In March, gunmen attached to the Defence Intelligence Agency abducted the then editor of FirstNews newspaper, Segun Olatunji, from his home in the Iyana Odo, Abule Egba area of Lagos State.

Olatunji’s abduction was linked to a story published by FirstNews titled, “Revealed: “Defence Chief running office like family business – Public Interest Lawyers”, published by many other online platforms.

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In May, a journalist with the Foundation for Investigative Journalism, Daniel Ojukwu, was abducted by men of the Intelligence Response Team of the Inspector General of Police.

Ojukwu regained his freedom after days 10 days in police custody following protests by some Civil Society Organisations in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory.

 

 

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