Climate of fear pervades Nigeria’s media industry: – says HURIWA:

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*Condemns attack on Premium Times MD’s wife by alleged DSS operatives:

The prominent media affiliated civil Rights advocacy group – HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA) has asked World leaders to intervene so President Muhammadu Buhari orders his officials and security forces to halt the harassment and physical attacks targeting journalists for writing stories considered as politically injurious to the federal government.

HURIWA has also asked media owners and the professional bodies such as Nigerian Guild of Editors, Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ) and the Newspapers/Media Houses Proprietors Association of Nigeria to immediately activate mechanisms to implement transparent and accountable Life Insurance policies for media workers so as to cushion the pains of the immediate family members losing their breadwinners in the line of duties just as the Rights group said the recent killing by police in Abuja during a public demonstration of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria of  Journalists is totally condemnable just as it expressed sadness that even the media owners and professional bodies representing the interests of journalists have moved on even when the armed police that shot and killed these reporters including Precious Awolabi of Channels Television; Alex Ogbu. “Apart from the FCT chapter of NUJ that has been at the forefront of the campaign for justice for the murdered journalists the national body and all other affiliate unions have done nothing to ensure that the vicious circles of KILLINGS of Journalists by police are brought to an end rapidly”. 

Besides, HURIWA has absolutely condemned the alleged invasion by Department of States Services (DSS) operatives of the official residence of the Editor-in-chief of Premium Times, Muskiliu Mojeed and the intimidation and harassment of his wife Mrs. Haulat Mojeed. The Rights group said the attempt to force the reporters of The Premium Times to disclose their sources of the exclusive story on the riffs between the NATIONALSECURITY Adviser and the Chief of Staff to President over the ongoing counter terror war was UNCONSTITUTIONAL and smack of a return to the dark days of dictatorship and military regimes. The media practitioners must never be compelled to disclose their sources because that is contrary to the professional ethics of the media practice. The moment a Journalist is forced to disclose his source of a news story which in any event is factual marks the end of MEDIA FREEDOMS. If the DSS or the Presidency feels bad about how the letter got leaked then let it go to Court. By the way, the FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT permits the Journalists to ask and receive such information in the national interest whether in form of a written REQUEST or verbal. On no account SHOULD PREMIUM TIMES or indeed any media house be harassed for doing what the Constitution in section 22 tasked then to do. The media reporter who got that story of the disagreements in the Presidency regarding alleged interferences of a civilian like the Chief of staff to the President in military matters should be awarded a national award for bringing such useful information to the open. He could have accepted huge bribes to kill the story but he was professionally efficient enough to circulate the story.  So why the man hunt? Those who should be sacked are either the National security Adviser or Chief of staff to the President who have reportedly constituted a cig in the wheel of any sort of prifress in the counter terror war which the brave military operatives  are making supreme sacrifices to protect us from TERRORISTS.”

“We totally condemn the reported attacks on the premises of one of the most vocal independent online media houses in Nigeria. The Premium Times and the reported man-hunt of Mr. Samuel Ogundipe. We have read that some Men suspected to be officers of the State Security Service (SSS) on Sunday morning breached the security of the Abuja residence of Muskilu Mojeed, the Editor-in-Chief of the PREMIUM TIMES. As the story goes, the two plain-clothed men who drove in a Camry car (Muzzle brand) arrived the house on Sunday morning and told Haulat, the wife who answered the knock on the gate, that they had a message for her journalist husband, requesting that she opened the gate to receive the message. The strangers had told Haulat that they knew that the husband was not at home but insisted that they had a “very important message” to deliver to him and persuaded her to open the gate to receive it but she instead asked them to pass the message through the opening in the gate. Again we learnt that three vehicles were sighted parked by security operatives parked near the PREMIUM TIMES office in Wuse, Abuja. The two men, one wearing a T – shirt and the other in a corporate suit, pressed further, insisting that she had to open the gate and sign for the message they came to deliver but Haulat maintained she could receive and sign for the message without opening the gate. We ask World leaders in USA; UK; AUSTRALIA; CANADA AND EUROPEAN UNION to save the Nigerian media from the pervasive climates of fear. The National Assembly; the Nigerian Police Force; and some rogue and compromised judges have conspired together to spread fear around the media industry in Nigeria. The use of intimidation, arbitrary arrest and obnoxious sentencing for carrying out the duties of informing and educating Nigerians has made the practice of media profession a highly dangerous job and the good journalists have become endangered species including civil society practitioners in Nigeria”. 

HURIWA notes that under the Constitution of Nigeria there are a plethora of laws to protect journalists such as Section 22 of the 1999 constitution (as amended) which states: “The press, radio, television and other agencies of the mass media shall at all times be free to uphold the fundamental objectives contained in this Chapter and uphold the responsibility and accountability of the Government to the people.”

Also, Section 39(1) provides thus::” Every person shall be entitled to freedom of expression, including freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart ideas and information without interference. Section 35:” Every person shall be entitled to his personal liberty and no person shall be deprived of such liberty save in the following cases and in accordance with a procedure permitted by law. Section 36: “In the determination of his civil rights and obligations, including any question or determination by or against any government or authority, a person shall be entitled to a fair hearing within a reasonable time by a court or other tribunal established by law and constituted in such manner as to secure its independence and impartiality.”

HURIWA therefore expressed shock that even with all the laws in place, press freedoms are under constant government attacks. The International community needs to act now. HURIWA also noted that even University’s based journalism platforms have come under physical attacks for writing stories considered political detrimental to some selfish interests of some dictatorial government officials of all hues.  

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