The International Press Centre (IPC), Lagos-Nigeria has commenced a survey on the safety of journalists in Nigeria as part of its project on safety of journalists and emerging issues in conflict in Nigeria supported by the United Nations Organization for Education, Science and Culture (UNESCO), Nigeria.
According to Mr. Lanre Arogundade, Director, IPC, the survey started in November, 2014 and will end in April 2015. He noted that the immediate objective of the project is to conduct an assessment that provides baseline information on safety of journalists in Nigeria especially in the context of UNESCO Journalists’ Safety Indicator at the National Level so as to facilitate an intervention plan by UNESCO, its partners and other interested stakeholders.
He further said the exercise is meant to highlight the danger faced by journalists, the nature and character of the violations of their rights, the institutions and persons responsible for such violations and the actions taken or not taken to promote the safety of journalists. The findings will also be used to engage relevant stakeholders on the safety of journalists in Nigeria.
Among the documented violations as sourced from nine national newspapers in November and December, 2014, are assault, abduction and destruction of working equipment.
Most of the attacks affecting 17 journalists occurred in November at separate locations. Fourteen journalists, among them, three females, were kidnapped by militants in Delta State. One journalist was abducted by gunmen in Abia State. One journalist was assaulted in Osun State while another journalist and his crew members were assaulted in Kwara state. The police were allegedly responsible for most of the attacks that occurred in December. Four of them took place in Taraba State.
Arogundade noted that journalists working in conflict zones and politically volatile areas continue to be vulnerable to attacks and in most cases there was no conclusive investigation and apprehension of those responsible for such including abductions.
He commended the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) for its intervention, being the most visible media pressure group condemning the attacks. He called on security agencies to investigate the reported cases and bring the perpetrators to book.