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General News of Saturday, 1 January 2022

Source: www.premiumtimesng.com

Coalition asks Buhari to stop security agencies’ attacks on journalists

President Muhammadu Buhari President Muhammadu Buhari

The Coalition for Whistleblower Protection and Press Freedom (CWPPF), on Saturday, called on the President Muhammadu Buhari-led federal government to stop the growing trend of attacks on journalists in the country.

“Thus, CWPPF calls on the Federal Government to take prompt measures to end these attacks on the news media, protect journalists from corrupt government officials exposed by journalists through their investigative reporting, and institute cautionary and disciplinary action against state actors who continue unruly attitudes towards journalists and citizens,” the coalition said in a statement endorsed by its 16 members.

CWPPF, comprising some top Nigerian media and civil society organisations as well as the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ), condemned the attacks on the news media which it said constitutes a threat to the Nigerian democracy.

“This dangerous trend threatens the health of the Nigerian news media and the resilience of our country’s democracy,” it said.

Citing a recent attack on a journalist with Punch Newspaper in Lagos, the coalition expressed concerns about lack of accountability of the government of President Buhari to the people.

“On Thursday, December 30, Tony Ufoh a journalist with Punch Newspaper was harassed by the Nigerian Special Police Fraud Unit [SFU] in the line of duty in Milverton Ikoyi area of Lagos. Mr. Ufoh was speaking to tenants who were reportedly defrauded by a developer when he was accosted by the police and his phone and Identity card forcibly taken and still unreturned.

“This rising pattern of attacks, and its evident constitutional breach, raise worrying concerns for the protection of citizen’s rights, the ability of the state to ensure effective governance, and the statutory obligation of the news media to hold the government and state officials accountable as required by the 1999 constitution.

“For the Government of President Muhammadu Buhari which came to power ostensibly to rid the country of corruption, this flagrant abuse of state power and resources by its agents blemishes its preparedness to enable the responsibility and accountability of the government to the people,” the statement read in part.

The police recently invited Fisayo Soyombo of the Foundation for Investigative Journalist (FIJ) for interrogation over a critical report by his platform exposing alleged acts of corruption of top police officers.

CWPPF called on the police to stop abusing their powers against journalists when they should be unravelling the alleged corrupt conduct of one of its officers.

“The police, on its part, is best served to restrain from abusing its powers using strong-arm tactics against the news media when its concerns should indeed be unravelling the alleged complicity of one of its officers in an act of corruption,” it said.

It added, “The graver danger is that if allowed to fester, this trend of attack on journalists for their legitimate reporting duty will embolden others, threatening journalism practice and freedom of the press in Nigeria, and – exposing a critical pillar for building and sustaining democracy in our country to jeopardy.”

The coalition

CWPPF is a group of media and civil society organisations committed to upholding democracy and good governance by protecting the ethos of whistleblowing, freedom of expression and press freedom.

Its members include Premium Times, OrderPaper Advocacy Initiative, The Cable, Daily Trust Newspaper, International Centre for Investigative Reporting, Wole Soyinka Centre for Investigative Journalism, Premium Times Centre for Investigative Journalism (PTCIJ) and African Centre for Media & Information Literacy (AFRICMIL).

The rest are Civic Media Lab, Civil Society Network Against Corruption (CSNAC), International Centre for Investigative Reporting (ICIR), International Press Centre (IPC), Media Rights Agenda (MRA), Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Paradigm Initiative, Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), and HEDA Resources Centre.

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