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"You can't hide the media": Nigerian journalists on freedom of the press under Buhar

"You can't hide the media": Nigerian journalists on freedom of the press under Buhar
Africa, Civil Society, Democracy, International Governance, Headlines, Human Rights, Freedom of the Press, TerraViva United Nations


Jonathan Rozen is an African researcher at the Committee on the Protection of Journalists

A billboard for Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhar gained the election once more in February. (CPJ / Jonathan Rozen)

NEW YORK, April 17, 2019 (IPS) – When Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari gained this yr's re-election, he campaigned (as he did in 2015) for good governance and anti-corruption. Billboards in the capital, Abuja, have been created by the president's smiling face, led by Nigerian army ruler from 1983 to 1985 – and his deputy chairman Yemi Osinbajo, and urged voters to continue their work

during the first time period of Buhar's CPJ's documented arrests, assaults and press harassment. In a very critical case, the weekly supply provider Jones Abiri was arrested free of cost in 2016 and refused to contact his household or lawyer for more than two years.

Abiri was launched in August, however in the following months, the basic election in February, the authorities continued to harass the press: the Premium Occasions editor Samuel Ogundipe was arrested and charged with refusing to disclose the source; Buhari publicly said that "the rule of law must be the supremacy of state security and national interest"; and troopers attacked two day by day Trustoffices based on media and CPJ research.

CPJ spoke to 5 Nigerian journalists about their views on press freedom and potential challenges in the second term of the Buhar election.

The CPJ also tried to contact the board for comments. When he was contacted on April 12, President Garba Shehu informed CPJ that he would name again later that day. Later calls from the CPJ went unanswered. CPJ also tried to contact the info minister Lai Mohammed, however his calls and the WhatsApp message have been missed

Nurudeen Abdallah, Day by day Belief's analysis journalist, described outdoors the headquarters of the newspaper in Abuja. The military attacked the paper in January. (CPJ / Jonathan Rozen)

Nurudeen Abdallah, Researcher, Every day Belief, Abuja:

Have you learnt that Buhari was a army ruler. When he was campaigning for the elections in 2015, he promised the Nigerians he was a democrat. During the last four years, he has not fulfilled his promise that journalists are protected of their democratic governance.

Our workplace right here in Abuja and our regional workplace in Maiduguri in north-eastern Nigeria have been robbed, closed and journalists have been taken away. So many bloggers are prosecuted amongst states when the governors are under the similar celebration platform.

At first, I anticipate [the administration] to lower the assaults because they gained the election. However in the direction of the next elections, they are more likely to scale it. At the moment, they [won’t] need tales that they think about adverse to the authorities.

They’ll definitely use normal state gear: a ban on promoting, spying on journalists, and typically a direct attack. However we’ve our constituencies, our readers. We’ve to inform them the fact, not what the government needs.

I solely hope that the individuals in power – the Presidency and the Heads of State – will see the trigger and see journalists as ongoing companions. The same people who complain about our reviews have been now the similar people who have been in opposition. It’s a perverse round, but they need to know that folks have the right to know. They should be responsible to voters.

They will solely be in energy for a restricted time. Basic Sani Abacha [Nigeria’s military ruler from 1993-1998] was here. Where is he right now? The journalists imprisoned in jail, the newspapers he closed, are again to full throttle. However he is not. This is just my message. You can’t undo the media. Perhaps you possibly can take heed to it for a while, however not ceaselessly

Jaafar Jaafar, Every day Nigerian, pictured outdoors Abuja's newspaper office. (CPJ / Jonathan Rozen)

Jaafar Jaafar, Editor-in-Chief, Day by day Nigerian, Abuja:

Buhar's first time period was really dangerous. A number of journalists have been imprisoned for a cause. I keep in mind the case of Jones Abir, who was arrested for greater than two years in secret providers

I am afraid of freedom of the press in Nigeria because the Buhar administration can get the courage. The President's last term is now. He doesn't ask for re-election. I am afraid that this management over the subsequent four years must not accept some publications. All the things that does not favor the authorities or authorities shouldn’t, they will descend.

Just some days earlier than the election, they crossed the Every day Belief workplaces, took the computer systems and just returned them. What about after the election? What do you assume will occur?

In November, the government of Kano filed a civil regulation with videos of Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduj, a Canadian governor who claims to have acquired bribes. Government officials tried to make me to not publish videos.

I have acquired lots of threats [from people saying] "We know where you are, and we know how to deal with you." I went into hiding for a few month. Some individuals I knew in the authorities warned me that I had plans towards me that I ought to simply depart my home or I shouldn't go residence to Kano. I didn’t go to Kano during this election, despite the fact that I registered a vote there.

I consider that the solely factor that can scale back the press or press in the press is that if businesses like CPJ are very attentive over the next four years. Put your eyes on Nigeria.

[EDITOR’S NOTE: In his defamation grievance, the governor stated that the studies have been false, in line with courtroom documents seen by CPJ. Salihu Tanko Yakasai, a spokesperson for Ganduje, informed CPJ he was unable to comment on Jaafar’s case as a result of it is already in the courtroom. He stated that “no effort was made” by the authorities to stop Jaafar from publishing. In October, Yakasai informed CPJ there was “no threat from the government side” and “no reason to believe there is any threat” towards Jaafar.]

Evelyn Okakwu, editor of Premium Occasions, pictured at the Abuja Research Report Middle. (CPJ / Jonathan Rozen)

Evelyn Okakwu, editor of the judiciary and human rights, Premium Occasions, Abuja:

The challenges for the subsequent 4 years do not concern the media however the whole Nigerian system. You will discover that when there is a noticeable point between the government and the particular person or group that is thought-about "government enemies", members of the government are monitored by a government company

. was arrested alongside the Premium Occasions publisher Dapo Olorunyom for the story. There was, nevertheless, a robust, common consensus in Nigeria and the international media, and ultimately the military even apologized.

What occurred throughout the arrest of Samuel Ogundip in August is worrying. Until the establishments act only by regulation, we’ll continue round this circle and around, where the individuals in power consider they will only use the state company – be it a police or a state security company –

. (CPJ / Jonathan Rozen)

Zainab Suleiman Okino, Editorial Chairman, Blueprint, Abuja:

Though the authorities gained its re-election, they are nonetheless not snug. They’re making an attempt to take heed to journalists with totally different views than theirs. Going forward there’s obvious worry in the air, fearing that Buhar's previous as Nigerian army chief shall be reinstated.

Jones Abiri. The federal government stated they suspected of performing some type of terrorism, or he helped or harm terrorism. To be able to put him in jail for 2 years, they had to learn the political significance of the crime that I don’t consider is the fact. So once we now have such things. However to a large extent, the Nigerian press is sort of open

Martin Ayankola, editor of Punch, at the headquarters of the newspaper, often known as 'Punch Place' outdoors Lagos. (CPJ / Jonathan Rozen)

Martin Ayankola, editor, Punch, Lagos:

I might say that the state of affairs isn’t horrible, despite the fact that makes an attempt have been made to restrict the freedom of the press. I consider that for those who do the right job, additionally, you will respect you.

Journalists shouldn’t make governments good. It isn’t our enterprise. We need to present the info we’ve got. [The government] shouldn’t see us as an extension of their PR models.

The most important problem I see is the silence of the opposition. Individuals need to know that democracy is just not without opposition.

There are delicate ways to create issues for the press. For example, the authorities might determine to print papers because the government is a very giant advertiser. It's a delicate strategy to translate you, to make you dance to their tuning. You all the time maintain arrests, however it’s also delicate to attempt to sneak into the media.

[Reporting from Abuja and Lagos, Nigeria.]

* Jonathan Rozen has been working with the Safety Research Institute in South Africa, Mozambique and Canada to guage Mozambique's peace constructing processes. He was a United Nations correspondent Inter Press Service (IPS) and has been written by Al Jazeera English and Worldwide Peace Institute. He speaks English and French.

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