Connect with us


Nigeria, one of West Africa’s most dangerous countries for journalists – Reporters Without Borders


Nigeria is one of West Africa’s “most dangerous and difficult countries for journalists,” an international media watchdog has said.

Expanded state surveillance, the spread of disinformation, and arbitrary arrests of journalists who report critically on the ruling political establishment were cited as the main obstacles to press freedom by Reporters Without Borders (RSF).

In its 2020 annual World Press Freedom Index, RSF ranked Nigeria 115 out of 180 countries, in which one is considered the freest.

Other rights groups have also expressed alarm about conditions for the media in Nigeria over the past year.

The Media Foundation for West Africa said Nigeria was among the countries in the region where journalists are assaulted, attacked, or have had equipment seized and destroyed while covering COVID-19, the respiratory ailment triggered by the coronavirus.

Nigerian laws designed to safeguard press freedoms aren’t being enforced, said Lagos-based freelance journalist Orji Sunday.

“Nigeria enjoys relative press freedom… because we have very robust documents backing press freedom in the country — but, in reality, there’s very little to defend the beauty of [those laws],” he told VOA.

Under the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari, reporting on corrupt politicians, police brutality, human rights abuses, or even the Boko Haram insurgency, he added, is not only logistically challenging but potentially dangerous.

“These are the kinds of stories that journalists find a lot of difficulties having access to the information that should guide their work every day,” said Sunday, who regularly contributes to the Al Jazeera news site, the non-profit environmental publication Mongabay, and The Guardian newspaper.

“We’ve had journalists beaten, jailed, threatened, and their families humiliated, because they covered a story that a particular politician deemed to be very embarrassing.”

In April, the U.S.-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) reported that Ebonyi State Governor Dave Umahi questioned journalist Chijioke Agwu over a report about Lassa fever at a press conference and then ordered police to take him away.

“Umahi then publicly accused Agwu of publishing ‘false and damaging’ information that violated Section 35 of Ebonyi’s new state law on COVID-19 and other infectious diseases,” said Jonathan Rozen, CPJ’s senior Africa researcher. Rozen said Agwu was released later without charge.

In the early hours of May 9, Nigeria’s Department of State Services (DSS) raided the Bayelsa state home of Naija Live TV founder Saint Mienpamo Onitsha, seizing his phone.

MORE READING!  CIBN to adopt remote online proctoring for its examinations- Olagundoye

According to the CPJ, the DSS agents drove Onitsha around blindfolded for hours before bringing him to a local DSS office, where he was interrogated and later released without charge on May 12.

Nigerian law says police may not detain any suspect for longer than 48 hours without a court order.

Nigerian lawmakers are currently reviewing legislation that would criminalize spreading false information online and allow the government to order internet shutdowns and block access to social media sites such as WhatsApp, Facebook and Twitter.

MORE READING!  JUST IN: Benue varsity deputy VC, Achinge, is dead

The 2019 Protection from Internet Falsehood and Manipulation Bill, which carries penalties including up to three years in prison or fines of up to 300,000 naira (U.S. $770), doubles down on Abuja’s efforts to criminalize free speech.

“Nigeria has criminal defamation on its books already, so this is just another example of the criminalization of speech,” Rozen told VOA, adding that the draft legislation has been criticized by journalists and civil society groups for being overly vague.

If passed, he said, it could become Nigeria’s latest tool for suppressing journalists.

“There’s already a Cybercrime Act, which was passed at the very end of [former president] Goodluck Jonathan’s term in 2015,” he said. Rozen said that legislation was similarly vague and “repeatedly used against the press.”

Journalists in Nigeria also risk arrest. While the number of imprisoned journalists across the continent has remained fairly steady over the past year, the CPJ reported that “freedom of expression is backsliding in… Nigeria, which does not bode well for journalists.”

MORE READING!  FG to resume Third Mainland Bridge repairs

Accusations of being anti-state are sometimes used against the media.

Omoyele Sowore, the founder of the U.S.-headquartered news site Sahara Reporters, was recently charged with treason after a legal dispute with Nigerian officials.

Sowore, who ran against Buhari in Nigeria’s February 2019 presidential contest, was detained in August for organizing nationwide rallies against corruption and allegations of unfair elections. He was held until late December, despite multiple court orders for his release.

“It is clear that the right to freedom of expression is increasingly under threat in Nigeria,” said a PEN International commentary about Sowore, who is on bail but restricted from leaving the country. PEN is a global network of writers.

Officials at Nigeria’s Washington embassy did not respond to VOA’s emailed requests for comment.

Aside from legal risks, Nigeria has a poor record in securing justice for journalists murdered for their work.

At least five journalists have been killed in relation to their work since 2010, according to CPJ, which ranks Nigeria 12th on its 2019 impunity index.

“We’ve had journalists who have lost their lives also along the way reporting some of the most important stories,” Sunday told VOA.


Third Mainland Bridge: FG explains six-month closure, announce other routes



The Federal and Lagos State Governments have announced traffic management plan ahead of the closure of the Third Mainland Bridge.

Maintenance on the bridge would be carried out from July 24, 2020, to January 24, 2021.

On Tuesday, Federal Controller of Works in Lagos, Olukayode Popoola, at a media briefing said the bridge was last rehabilitated in 2012.

The official explained that the repairs would be done in two phases.

The Oworonshoki bound carriageway is the first to be shut for three months.

Within the period, motorists would use the Island-bound lane and alternative routes provided.

MORE READING!  FG to resume Third Mainland Bridge repairs

From 12 am to 1 pm, the highway would take the Oworonshoki to Lagos Island traffic only on the Lagos Island-bound carriageway.

From 1 pm to 11 pm, the highway would take the Lagos Island to Oworonshoki traffic only on the Lagos Island-bound carriageway.

The same process will be replicated on the Lagos Island-bound carriageway upon completion of repairs of the Oworonshoki lane.

Popoola advised motorists to ply alternative routes from Carter Bridge through Iddo, through Oyingbo to join Adekunle ramp inward Oworonshoki.

“From Ijora Olopa through Western Avenue to Ikorodu Road. Traffic control will be in place to direct and help traffic movement”, he said.

Special Adviser to Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu on Works, Aramide Adeyoye, said Herbert Macaulay Way and Iddo/Oyingbo roads will receive urgent attention.

MORE READING!  CIBN to adopt remote online proctoring for its examinations- Olagundoye

Adeyoye confirmed that Adeniji Adele Road contract had been awarded and repairs would soon begin.

The aide told owners of trucks not in good condition to stay off the roads and warned against indiscriminate parking on roads and bridges.

Commissioner for Transportation, Fredrick Oladeinde, said the Vehicle Inspection Service had started checking trucks for roadworthiness.

“We have confiscated over 90 vehicles between June and today. So we will continue to do that. We will have more VIS on the roads.”

He assured that Lagos was doubling its efforts on congestion, noting that,

“a lot of traffic goes to the Island in the morning and goes back to the Mainland in the evening.”

Oladeinde added that as at the last traffic count, “we had over 60,000 trips going from the Mainland to the Island and those going on the other side are just about 20,000”

MORE READING!  Police arrests 35 primary, secondary school students at s3x party in Kenya
Continue Reading


We’re in talks with UN for Biafra referendum –IPOB



The Indigenous People of Biafra, on Tuesday, claimed to be in talks with the United Nations to hold a referendum for a sovereign state of Biafra.

The claim was contained in a statement by the group’s Media and Publicity Secretary, Emma Powerful.

Powerful said IPOB was making efforts for the referendum any moment soon.

Promising that the exercise would be peaceful, the group said everybody resident within Biafra territory would vote according to their conscience.

MORE READING!  FG to resume Third Mainland Bridge repairs

He said:

“It is quite clear and understandable to every citizen of Biafra and indeed the entire world that we need a referendum, where the people will exercise their right on whether or not they want self-rule or continued existence within Nigeria.

A UN-supervised referendum is a must and a right for every human being in Nigeria to unequivocally state where they wish to belong.

“We in IPOB and Biafrans, in general, expect the United Nations to supervise this referendum, which will enable even those living beyond the boundaries of Biafra to equally determine their own fate. We want freedom for all, not just for Biafrans alone.”

“IPOB is making frantic efforts to ensure that this happens in the shortest possible time. We are not going to force or intimidate anyone or tribe because the will of the people is sacrosanct and must be respected. Each individual will be allowed to decide where he or she wishes to belong.”


MORE READING!  Property tax now mandatory for Ekiti landlords, landowners – IRS











Continue Reading


Bring COVID-19 patients for prayers – T. B. Joshua tells Nigeria, other countries



Covid-19: TB Joshua speaks God's mind after the pandemic

Pastor T. B. Joshua has declared readiness to virtually pray for COVID-19 patients in isolation centres in Nigeria and other countries.

In an announcement on Tuesday, Joshua called on government and medical authorities to “organize those who are in isolation” and “arrange how to connect them to us.”

The cleric noted that “the blessing of Jesus is for those who knock and ask”.

MORE READING!  Panic as fire guts vehicle at Onitsha Army Baracks gate

He told everyone that in whatever way they support to make the intercession happen, “we are a team; we are not doing more than you.”

The leader of the Synagogue Church of All Nations (SCOAN) added:

“Together we shall pray for them. Together we shall be set free from this COVID-19.”

Stressing that those infected need prayers, Joshua recalled the Bible scripture where Jesus healed all who had various sicknesses.

“The same anointing that heals one is also able to heal all at the same time,” he added.

Coronavirus has infected nearly 12 million people and caused more than 545,000 deaths.

MORE READING!  JUST IN: Benue varsity deputy VC, Achinge, is dead

However, the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) has called for the reopening of all churches.

Continue Reading