By; PATRICK TITUS, Uyo
No fewer than 24 journalists and media workers have been killed in Nigeria between 1992 and 2022, a Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) report has shown.
The Chairman, Akwa Ibom State Council of Nigeria of Journalists (NUJ), Comrade Amos Etuk mentioned this in a statement jointly signed with the Secretary, Comrade Dominic Akpan to mark this year International Day To End Impunity For Crimes Against Journalists.
The statement expressed sadness over the ugly scenario faced by journalists and media workers in spite of the provisions of 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended on the freedom of expression and the practice.
The union leaders noted that ending impunity for crimes against journalists remains one of the fundamental issues for the advancement of democracy in Nigeria.
“To observe this UN- recognized international day, we note that ending impunity for crimes against journalists is one of the fundamental issues for the advancement of democracy in Nigeria.
“Journalism practice and the media are central to the development of any democracy and democratic society.
“In recognition of the significant role of the media, the 1999 Constitution guarantees every Nigerian freedom of expression and to own, establish and operate any media for the dissemination of information, ideas, and opinions.It also gives the responsibility to the media to monitor governance and hold the government accountable to the people.
“Unfortunately, journalists face serious threats while performing their constitutional duties, almost on a daily basis.
“Some of the countless threats include killings, arrests and detention by security agents, torture, harassment, and other forms of violent attacks.
“According to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), 24 journalists and media workers were killed in Nigeria between 1992 and 2022.”. The Union leaders stated.
Reflecting on the situation in Akwa Ibom State, the union observed the pocket of threats and harassment meted on journalists in the state, and described it as a negative development to the advancement of democracy in the state and Nigeria at large.
“Some months ago, Comrade Harrison Essien of AKBC Radio was assaulted by DSP Ezra Yuguda at the premises of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), while waiting for the distribution of the materials for the party’s primaries he was assigned by his organisation to cover.
“Similarly, Comrade Lynda Ukonne of the Insight Newspaper was detained by the Police at the State Police Command, Ikot Akpan Abia for asking the right questions in a case involving her brother.
“Few months ago, Comrade Ifreke Nseowo of The Mail Newspaper was on the watch list of the Police for running a story that had earlier been published by an online newspaper in the case involving the PDP governorship candidate, Pst. Umo Eno and Mr. Akan Okon, a governorship aspirant to the guber primary”. The Union stated.
It however, called on the stakeholders in the state, particularly the politicians to support the actualisation of this year’s theme – “Protecting the Media to Protect Democracy” by shunning all forms of impunity and threat against Journalists.
This it noted, became necessary as the campaigns for 2022 general elections get underway where journalists are required to play a significant role in sustaining the nation democracy through their reportage on the activities of both political parties and their candidates.
The union accordingly, advised members of the public, who may feel injurious by any media report to seek appropriate ways of seeking redress instead of resulting to self-help
In the same way, it charged its members to continue to be objective in their reportage and communicate their thoughts properly to the understanding of the public, even as it has reiterated that Journalists need special protection, which must be supported by all the stakeholders in the Akwa Ibom project.