How 66 journalists attacked, harassed in 2022 – IPC report reveals

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No fewer than 66 Nigerian journalists from different parts of the country were reportedly said to have been attacked in the year 2022.

 

The figure, which was said to be higher than what obtained in 2021 comprises 56 males and 10 females journalists from the print, broadcast and online media among others.

 

The revelation was contained in a report presented to the public at the weekend by the International Press Council (IPC) at a media roundtable and stakeholders’ forum on journalists’ safety and protecting freedom of expression in the age of misinformation and disinformation.

 

The roundtable was organised under the auspices of the Nigerian Journalists Safety Initiative, one of the components of a three-year project on ‘Safety Awareness and Impactful Reporting of Communities’ being implemented by IPC with the support of the Open Society Foundation (OSF).

 

Presenting the report to the stakeholders, IPC Programme Officer, Melody Akinjiyan said the attacks on the journalists in the year 2022 ranges from unlawful arrests/detention, physical assaults, threat to life, abduction, invasion, threat to sanction, media shutdown, robbery, hacking of social media account, threat to disclose source, denial of access to information, and murder.

 

The report reads in part “The worrisome trend of the violation of the rights of journalists and the media in Nigeria continued in the year 2022, as there was an increase compared with 2021.

 

“In this regard, the Safety of Journalists Alert Desk of the International Press Centre (IPC), Lagos – Nigeria documented not less than sixty-six (66) incidents of attacks affecting journalists and other media professionals.

 

“The attacks range from unlawful arrests/detention, physical assaults, threat to life, abduction, invasion, threat to sanction, media shutdown, robbery, hacking of social media account, threat to disclose source, denial of access to information, and murder.”

 

Speaking on the methodology adopted in compiling the report, Akinjiyan said “the report on the state of attacks on journalists and media in Nigeria (2022) was generated through desk research and monitoring by IPC’s Safety of Journalists Alert Desk complemented by the field reports of press freedom monitors engaged by IPC in each of the country’s six geo-political zones.

 

“The collated information was then subjected to verification especially through the affected individual journalists and news mediums after which they were analysed to determine the location of the incident, the types of attacks, the alleged perpetrators, the gender of the victims, the type of media organisations affected, the injuries or losses suffered, and the remedies sought, if any.

 

“The attacks occurred in the six geo-political zones of the North West (NW), North Central (NC), North East (NE), South West (SW), South East (SE) and South South (SS).

 

“The states where they occurred, and the number of incidents include: Four in Zamfara, Jigawa and Kaduna (NW), 16 in FCT Abuja and Kwara (NC), six in Gombe, Taraba, Adamawa and Bauchi (NE), 26 in Lagos, Ondo, Osun, Ogun and Oyo (SW), four in Enugu (SE); and ten in Bayelsa, Delta, Edo and Cross River (SS).”

 

The report further gave the type of attacks to include: physical assault (24), abduction (7), gun attack (1), threats to life (2), threat to disclose source /intimidation (2), Invasion (1), media shutdown (1), denial of access to information (1), robbery (1), harassment (2), unlawful arrest and detention (21), hacking of account (1), and threat to sanction/payment of fine (2).

 

The alleged perpetrators of the attack according to the report include officials of Nigeria Security & Civil Defence (NSCDC), security operatives, National Intelligence Agency (NIA) and Department of State Security (DSS), Nigeria Police Force, Police Force Intelligence Bureau (FIB), Federal Ministry of Finance, Federal Ministry of Youths & Sports Development, LASTMA, ISWAP

 

Others were; hoodlums, Shooting Stars FC (3SC, Ibadan) fans, unknown persons & gunmen, political thugs, armed robbers, politicians among others.

 

The report however called for a greater sense of solidarity among journalists in dealing with attacks on the media and abuse of the rights of colleagues in the profession.

 

“Sharing information relating to similar experiences and circumstances of attacks by journalists and victims could be useful for interrogating and overcoming the predisposing factors that make journalists vulnerable to victimization.

 

“In most cases, available information provided to the help desk by victims, particularly as it pertains to identities of attackers or perpetrators of abuse may not be adequate considering the spontaneity of the incidents.

 

“It would therefore be helpful if colleagues who were on the same beat or at the scene of the incidents could also volunteer further credible information to assist in apprehending and prosecuting abusers of journalists and attackers of the media.

 

“It is however noted that abuse by security agents, especially the Police Force still features as a dominant challenge despite decades of advocacy aimed at demanding change from relevant authorities of security agencies.

 

“There is indeed the need for relevant authorities to prioritise sensitization and reorientation of security agents on the rights and privileges of journalists during crisis situations.

 

“It is therefore imperative for media professional bodies especially the unions and associations as well as relevant stakeholders in the civil society to demand accountability on safety of journalists and media through renewed engagements at institutional and legislative levels”, the report noted.

 

To mitigate further attack on both the journalists and the media, the report recommends “greater networking, partnership and collaboration by stakeholders on safety of journalists and using institutional and legal mechanisms to challenge the violation of the rights of journalists and the media.”

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