Nigeria Among The Worst Places To Practice Journalism In The World

The atmosphere within which the press operate in Nigeria reflects growing incidents of brutality and harassment of journalists and media houses creating a disturbing picture of freedom of the press in Nigeria. The infamous quote of former military ruler of Uganda, Idi Amin “There is freedom of speech, but I cannot guarantee freedom after speech” may not yet be entirely a reality in Nigeria but whether the nation’s media landscape is sliding towards that part might not be completely disputed. There is no certainty of freedom for journalists in the country especially after reporting on subjects that are deemed sensitive, depending on who is angered by such report.

Nigeria is among the worst 70 countries to practice journalism in the world. The 2019 edition of World Press Freedom Ranking has shown that Nigeria is still among the most unsafe countries to practice journalism. The country’s ranking dropped to 120 from 119 it was placed in 2018. This is out of a total of 180 countries ranked in the survey.

The world press freedom index is published by Reporters Without Borders, also known as Reporters Sans Frontieres (RSF).

A total of 180 countries were captured in the survey with Norway ranked as the best country in terms of press freedom, and Turkmenistan, the worst, reports icir.

The survey noted that Nigeria, “Africa’s most populous nation has more than 100 independent newspapers and yet covering stories involving politics, terrorism or financial embezzlement by the powerful proves problematic”.

“Journalists are often threatened, subjected to physical violence or denied access to information by government officials, police and sometimes the public itself,” the report read.

The “unprecedented level of disinformation” spread by officials within Nigeria’s two major political parties during the 2019 general election was also cited as one of the reasons Nigeria dropped to 120th position.

A report released by Reporters Without Borders (RSF) captured the difficulty experienced by journalists working in Nigeria. “In Nigeria, it is difficult to cover stories involving politics, terrorism, and financial embezzlement by the powerful. Journalists are often threatened, subjected to physical violence, or denied access to information by government officials, police, and sometimes the public itself…. The all-powerful regional governors are often the media’s most determined persecutors and act with complete impunity,” the report said.

According to the RSF survey, Nigeria is ranked 35th in Africa behind countries such as Congo Brazzaville, Mozambique, and Angola.

Ghana lost its spot as Africa’s best in terms of press freedom following the murder of Ahmed Suale, an investigative journalist working with Anas Aremeyaw Anas, Ghana’s popular masked investigative reporter.

Namibia, ranked 23rd on the list, is now the best-ranked country in Africa, followed by Cape Verde (ranked 25th in the world), Ghana (27), South Africa (31) and Burkina Faso (44).

The top ten countries where the press is most free, according to the survey, are Norway, Finland, Sweden, Netherland, Denmark, Switzerland, New Zealand, Jamaica, Belgium, and Costa Rica.

The case of Jones Abiri was among terrifying developments that may have contributed to Nigeria’s worsening press freedom index as observed by RSF. On March 30, 2019, Jones Abiri, the editor and publisher of the Weekly Source newspaper based in the Bayelsa State capital, Yenagoa, was reportedly arrested a second time by the Department of State Services (DSS). He was reportedly re-arrested at Ayabowei Plaza in Yenagoa while having a meeting with his colleagues. Abiri’s case drew local and international outrage given that he had been previously arrested by the DSS in 2016 and held for two years after he was accused of being the leader of the joint revolutionary council of the separatist group, Joint Niger Delta Liberation Force. Abiri was also accused of threatening oil companies and demanding money from them. He was granted bail in August 2018 when an Abuja magistrate court struck out a suit against him after being held in detention for two years.

Abiri’s case was described as a violation of the journalist’s right which was a troubling development to journalism practice in Nigeria. On this issue, Angel Quintal, Programme Coordinator  of Committee to Protect Journalist’s Africa said: “Given that Jones Abiri was previously detained by intelligence officers without access to a lawyer or his family for two years, we are deeply worried that he has once again been arrested and that his whereabouts are not known,” said Angela Quintal, Committee to Protect Journalist’s Africa program coordinator…. We call on federal and state authorities in Nigeria to disclose where Abiri is being detained and the reasons for his arrest, and urge that they ensure that his rights are not violated yet again and that due process is respected.” Abiri was released on Monday, April 1.

Another incident among the most disturbing disregard of press freedom by security operatives happened during the 2019 general elections in Nigeria. In one unbelievable incident, five journalists in Anambra state, Southeastern part of the country, covering the Presidential election were harassed by police men in the most disturbing manner, even when they showed their identity cards, provided documents showing they were accredited to cover the election, and were even wearing aprons given to journalists by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), the body that organizes elections in the country. The journalists – Messrs Onu Nwanosike, The Nation; Geoffrey Anyanwu, Daily Sun; Vincent Ujumadu, Vanguard; Tony Okafor, Punch; and David-Chyddy Eleke of Thisday – were allegedly molested and demobilised after their car keys were forcibly taken away by the policemen in Agulu, Anambra state, near the home of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) vice-presidential candidate, Mr. Peter Obi, while carrying out their lawful duties. They were all in one mini bus when the incident happened. They were eventually freed after intervention by some personalities and security operatives in the state.

There is need for improved atmosphere for practice of journalism in Nigeria. What transpired during the 2019 elections was a total nightmare for journalists. At 120 out of 180 on press freedom index, Nigeria is unarguably among the worst places to practice journalism in the World. As the acclaimed giant of Africa, 35th position on press freedom index is a bit shameful.

 

The Author

Chinenye Nwabueze

Nwabueze is a communication researcher with several years of lecturing experience in Nigerian universities.

49 Comments

Add a Comment
  1. Ezekwo Chinenye Josephine

    This is so bad of our country

  2. Been that way for long

  3. Egbuwalo Teniola Glory

    Our country Nigeria.

  4. Nigeria is too bad for d profession

    1. Ifejika Celestine

      Ohh Nigeria, may God help us, we journalist

  5. Indeed Nigeria need to improve in making a comfortable atmosphere for journalist

  6. Nigeria my country, there is indeed need for improved atmosphere for journalism in Njgeria

  7. Not Surprised, the way Journalists are being harassed in this country,is very disturbing.

  8. This is really true freedom of speech is not really guaranteed in this country

  9. That is true journalist are restricted to many informations especially if it involves the government. It is so true

  10. In a country Where there is high rate of corruption a journalist life is at stake.

  11. I’m not surprised. The notion of free press is not applicable to Nigeria

  12. Omenuko Adaobi Promise

    So true..and our government are not helping matters

  13. Udogu Ogechi Victory

    Well, the insecurity is everywhere not just in Nigeria.

  14. Nigeria is indeed the worst place to practice journalism. People no longer respect journalists.

  15. Practicing journalism in Nigeria is very risky,that’s why we the journalists needs to be careful when we’re on the field

  16. Hmmm am telling you..
    Dibia Esther

  17. Freedom of the press in Nigeria is just in theory not in practical

  18. journalism is very risky in Nigeria that’s why as a Nigerian journalist you are advised to be very conscious of your way about.

  19. We see Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan,
    OUR HOPE MUST INCREASE lolzzz

  20. The Government should help us

    1. Help us?…. This isn’t about helping us…. Is about those who studied it coming out to practice….. Most people just want to graduate and start businesses…… Heaven help those who help themselves

  21. Micheal Nwazuloke

    Apart from Entertainment and sports
    dont knw wah else nigeria is good in

  22. Obika juliet ogechi

    True talk shaa Nigga no follow at all.

  23. Obika juliet ogechi

    Yes ooo it’s true Nigeria has no room for such practice.

  24. Ezeh vivian chinaecherem

    this is nigeria! so am not surprise!

  25. Iloegbunem Emily Ebele

    Its still better than Iran, Iraq and other terrible countries

  26. oluoha chinelo lorita

    am discourage already. ..bt what can I do

  27. Akaforonye oluebube patience

    This is Nigeria

  28. Emmanuella Ezeifeka

    Our reputation Is bad in just too many fields. I’m already tired

  29. Okeke Chioma Onyinye

    This is my country Nigeria

  30. Igboachusi Jonathan

    God help us

  31. Anagbogu Mary Ifeyinwa

    So bad for the country

  32. Chidozie chiazokam Jennifer

    Nigeria jaga jagaaa

  33. Onuorah Adaeze Chidimma

    Everytime, Na Naija dem go carry for mouth….

  34. Nawa ooo….my next world I no go kuku come out for my mama Belle if na naija I dey come….*Sobs* God u know my destiny is not on this country…delay it no more..I need to leave this country already

  35. Arinzechi flourish

    We need to pray for this country

  36. this is terrible

  37. Ebulue Ruth Oluchi

    This is so true

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