The International Press Institute (IPI)’s Nigerian National Committee has published a statement in response to a recent series of seizures by the Nigerian military of multiple editions of newspapers, including Leadership, The Nation and Punch, at locations across the country.
In some cases, this has involved the interception of delivery vans and the storming of newspaper offices in order to prevent circulation. According to reports, the military has defended the seizures as a “routine security action” in connection with counter-insurgency operations.
ABUJA, June 12, 2014 – The Nigerian National Committee of the International Press Institute (IPI) views with grave concern the persistent assault on the media by the Nigerian government. The Committee condemns in particular the ongoing ambushing and impounding of newspaper delivery vans and the seizure and destruction of newspapers by the military under the dubious guise of protecting national security.
The government is already notorious for its assault on the free press but this week’s mindless and coordinated assault on some selected newspapers across the country is a new low.
The explanation given by the military authorities that its action was necessary to preempt usage of media outlets by insurgents for their nefarious activities is weak, infantile, and an insult to the intelligence of Nigerians.
In the run-up to the general elections, the current assault could signal a greater danger to the free press in Nigeria. It is a frightening possibility that the media must resist.
The IPI Nigerian National Committee calls on the government to stop its ongoing media repression.
As partners-in-progress, the media community is willing and ready to work with the government on the nation’s security challenges. But the press will not submit to any undemocratic, cowboy tactics.
Assault on the free press did not work in Nigeria in the past – not even under the brutal military dictatorships. It certainly will not work in this democratic era.