Written by: 
Nandera Angel Nahabi

Journalists in Nigeria believe there is a lot more that can be done to protect press freedom in the country. According to them, institutions such as government agencies and media professional bodies should commit and do more to ensure an environment where free press is achieved.

In Nigeria, the freedom of expression is protected by section 39(1) of the Federal Republic of Nigeria Constitution.  However, according to the Human Rights Watch, there have been numerous incidents in which officials have intervened directly in an attempt to prevent coverage of events judged detrimental to the image of the government. Media Rights Agenda (MRA), a Lagos-based non-governmental organization which promotes press freedom and freedom of expression, recorded more than fifty cases of reported abuses against journalists and other violations of freedom of expression between June 2002 and September 2003.

A few professional organizations such as the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ) have been trying their best to protect the interests of the journalists. However, a journalist who spoke on condition of anonymity accused the professional bodies for having double standards when it came to brutality of Journalists.

"It is saddening that the big guns that call the shots in the professional bodies like NUJ here actually condone the acts of brutality because they are simply in bed with the government. I don't understand why they choose to speak only in selected scenarios and most times, the brutalized journalists are left with no form of assistance from the professional bodies they subscribe to.”

Quoted in The Republic,  some journalists argued that even government is not doing enough to protect journalists and ensure their safety. Journalist Ope Adetayo said the government “ should provide security for journalists, provide security for me and my colleagues to do our jobs and ensure we are safe in the line of our work. And when we are attacked, they should ensure we get justice, and that I’m able to do my job without any fear.

These voices have also been heard from Nigerian citizens, international bodies and journalists’ professional bodies. Some of the proposals include holding perpetrators of attacks on journalists accountable and  reviewing the repressive laws in the country, among others.