Human RightsNews

Attacks On Journalists, Media Organisations Shrinking Civic Space – SERAP

SERAP launched its latest report documenting the harassment and attacks on journalists in Nigeria. It also called for a review of the Nigeria constitution to enhance the practice of journalism.

Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), a legal and advocacy organisation in Nigeria, has demanded that attacks on journalists and media houses in the country should stop as such actions violate the constitutional provisions of the country.

SERAP made this known at the launch of its latest report titled “Something To Hide?: Media Freedom Under Siege In Nigeria” held in Lagos, Southwest Nigeria.

The advocacy organisation emphasised that civic space in Nigeria has increasingly faced restrictions from the government thereby bringing human rights -as provided by the 1999 Constitution (as amended)- under attack.

“The report illustrates that Nigeria’s civic space has significantly shrunk in the past two years. States actors at federal, state and local government levels have carried out violations that have shrunk civic space,” according to the report.

The report listed over 35 attacks on journalists and media houses across Nigeria.

Falana calls out NBC on misconduct

Speaking at the launch, Femi Falana, a human rights lawyer and Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), challenged the Nigeria Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) on its recent fine imposed on Channels Television, saying the body acted against its constitutional rights.

“About two week ago, an agency of the government, NBC, suddenly announced that the Channels TV had been suspended and fined N5 million. No trial was done, thus NBC became the judge, witness and prosecutor in its own court,” Falana said.

“The conduct of NBC cannot be justified under the provision of the Nigerian constitution and Africa Charter on Human and People’s Rights. The NBS Act provides opportunity for journalists and media houses alleged to have committed any infractions.”

“Human rights are collective rights; we need to claim them not fight for them.”

Falana, said the Section 24 Cybercrime Act which has been abused to harass journalists and media houses have been annulled by the ECOWAS Court.

“A case has gone to the ECOWAS Court and the entire section 24 of the Cybercrime Act has been annulled,” he said.

Recommendations

SERAP, however, listed recommendations to all state and non-state actors, which includes: “the president of Nigeria should publicly condemn all attacks on journalists and media organisations; issue a clear public statement to all government and security forces officials prohibiting such acts.”

“The National Assembly should promptly and comprehensively review the Cybercrime Act and other restrictive legislation, and revise them.”

“The Minister of Justice should push for the immediate amendment of Cybercrime Act and other legislation and bring them in line with the Nigerian Constitution of 1999 (as amended).”

“All the 36 state governors should ensure that any government or security officials found responsible for obstructing, abusing or attacking journalists or media organisations are appropriately disciplined or prosecuted.”


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