The IPI global network is concerned by a recent increase in attacks on journalists in Nigeria. At least 15 journalists, including four women journalists, were attacked in May in several different incidents. Thirteen of these attacks were carried out by law-enforcement officials and at least seven were linked to primary elections and political party campaigns. IPI calls on authorities in Nigeria to respect freedom of the press and ensure that police guarantee journalist safety ahead of the February 2023 Nigerian federal elections.
Journalists Yinka Aderinan of The Nations newspaper was tear-gassed directly in his eyes, nose and mouth by a police officer in Oyo State on May 25. Deborah Coker of the News Agency of Nigeria, Sunny Inarumen of African Independent Television, and Osamuyi Ogbomo of Independent Television were detained by police in Edo State while covering primary elections held by the People’s Democratic Party (PDP). On the same day, suspected political party activists attacked vehicles leaving a campaign rally by Osun State Governor Gboyega Oyetola including a bus belonging to Osun State Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ). Journalists Shina Abubakar and Victor Adeoti of the News Agency of Nigeria as well as several other journalists sustained injuries as a result.
In another incident, on May 31, police shot at Toba Adedeji from The Nations newspaper while he was covering an anti-police brutalities protest. On May 17, seven journalists were assaulted by police on the premises of a court in Port Harcourt, the capital city of Rivers State. These seven reporters – Anita Ogona, Allwell Ene of Naija FM, Ayo Odungweru of Wave FM, Chiweta Nwagbara of Love FM, Soibi Oruwari of Nigeria Info, Monica Ogwa and Chuks Nweke of Rhythm FM – were beaten while reporting on a court case involving federal legislator and aspiring governor Farah Dagogo. Olamilekan Hammed Adewale Bashiru, founder of the privately owned news website EaglesForeSight was arrested on May 13 and detained for 10 days without charge by officers from the Nigerian Department of State Security after he republished a report about the “alleged criminal records” of Ogun state governor Dapo Abiodun.
“Nigerian authorities must urgently take measures to better protect journalists,” Musikilu Mojeed, chair of the IPI Nigeria National Committee said. “The police must call its officials to order and ensure that those who harass, attack or obstruct journalists in the course of their work are held to account.”
‘’As Nigeria heads towards general elections next year, authorities must act to ensure journalists and media houses are safe and free to do their work”, IPI Deputy Director Scott Griffen said. “Freedom of the press and access to information are indispensable for citizens to make informed decisions.”