Stop Violence Against Journalists

Stop Violence  Against  Journalists 

The Editor-In-Chief, Roamreporters, Mr. Innocent Nsikak Orok has said that Nigeria journalists will always be an Endangered Species as far as we operate in an environment populated by oppressive and power drunk leader

Orok, made this  known  at the Safety  of Journalists Symposium with the  theme - Mitigating Online Violence  Against  Journalists In Nigeria by the Management and Board of Media Centre for Promotion of Safety Awareness in Lagos.

Speaking,  Orok described the pen of journalists  as tools/ weapons as voice for the voiceless while others in the  estate use forces, powerswhich is mightier than the pen.

His words: "First, I want to thank the Almighty God for making today a reality. And I want to most sincerely thank the Management and Board of Media Centre for Promotion of Safety Awareness, publishers of Safety and Security Watch; organisers of this event, especially Dr Chinyere ,  for being able to put up this thought provoking  and strategic thinking programme for Journalists as a way to mitigate the dangers of the profession , especially in this era  where technology is changing the traditional communication methods as well as bridging the time and distance which were hitherto limiting factors in communication.

"As the theme of this year's symposium, "Mitigating Online Violence Against Journalists in Nigeria". I want to say without mincing words that the Nigeria Journalists has and will always be an “Endangered Species" as far as we operate in an environment populated by oppressive and power drunk leaders.

"Let’s look at this fact, the journalism profession pride itself as the ‘Fourth Estate of the Realm’ with only his pen as tool/weapon, the other in the  ‘Estate’; the Executives, Legislature and Judiciary controls  the instruments of Force, Power and the paraphernalia of the State. In such an unbalanced system and when compared with the characters at the corridors of power, then the pen will surely not be mightier than the sword, because the characters in power have designed strategies, means and ways of attacks, intimidation, frustration and use of State powers to suppress the might of the Pen.


According to a report by Armed Conflicts Location and Event Data Project (ACLED), it recorded a total of 520 attacks against journalists in 2022 as against 460 in 2021. The attacks were carried out in 78 countries of the world, with the highest violence recorded in Mexico, Bangladesh and Afghanistan, accounting for 46, 46 and 38 attacks respectively.

ACLED said "Globally the perpetrators of these violence are diverse with State forces, Violent mobs and Political militias among the most prevalent perpetrators accounting for 26%, 22% and 11% of the events respectively. However, many of the perpetrators of violence targeting journalists remain hidden, with more than a quarter of events perpetrated by unidentified armed groups.


"In Nigeria, Premium Times, a popular Nigerian online medium has reported that the International Press Centre (IPC) says a total of 66 Nigerian journalists and three Media houses suffered various forms of attacks in 2022.

"Melody Akinjiyan, IPC programme officer made this known while presenting a report on the attacks on journalists in 2022 at the World Press Freedom Day (WPFD) media roundtable in Ibadan, Oyo state. The event was organised by IPC in partnership with the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Oyo State Council and sponsored by Open Society Foundation.

"Akinjiyan said the 66 reported attacks on journalists in 2022 was a worrisome rise compared to the over 40 cases recorded in 2021. She listed the types of attacks as Physical assault (24); Abduction (7); Gun attack (1); Threats to life (2); Threat to disclose source/intimidation (2); Invasion (1); Media shutdown (1) and Robbery (1).

Others were denial of access to information (1), Harassment (2), Unlawful arrest and detention (21), Hacking of account (1) and Threat to sanction/payment of fine (2).

"Also of the 66 journalists, 56 are males and 10 females. Among them are 13 Print journalists, 26 Broadcast, 24 Online media practitioners and three others,” as reported by NAN. It further said Twenty-six of the journalists are from the South-west, 16 from North-central, 10 from South-south, six from North-east, four from North-west and 10 from South-east.

"The States where the incidents happened were Zamfara, Jigawa, Kaduna, Kwara, Gombe, Taraba, Adamawa, Bauchi, Lagos, Ondo, Osun, Ogun, Oyo, Enugu, Bayelsa, Delta, Edo, Cross River and FCT.

"The IPC programme officer further  said the various attacks, as reported, were allegedly carried out by security agencies, political thugs, armed robbers and militant groups like the Islamic State of West Africa Province (ISWAP).

"In the  first quarter of 2023 ( ie during Nigeria's Elections), Cable News,  another popular online news medium reports that  Press Attack Tracker in the first quarter of 2023 tracked and verified 45 cases of harassment and infringements suffered by journalists in Nigeria, fueling troubling concerns about press freedom and human rights in Africa’s largest democracy. 

"The Q1 2023 press attack number marked an alarming increase as it surpassed the total for the whole of 2022 with  37 cases within the same period. 

"Gentlemen of the Press and invited guests, in this very turbulent, frustrating and intimidating operating environment, what can a journalist do and how can a journalist carry on with his/ her constitutional role  ( Section 22 of the Nigerian Constitution 1999 as amended) hold government and it's officials accountable on behalf of the citizens ?


"Sadly, as we speak, the powerful   officials in government are fighting tooth and nail to control and regulate the online media. After the failed attempt to pass the obnoxious Social Media Regulation Bill to control online media by the 9th National Assembly. It will interest you to know that the bill has been reintroduced to the 10th National Assembly for consideration and passage. This was reported on the Editorial Page of the Sun Newspaper of Wednesday, October 25, 2023.

"According to the Sun Editorial, while the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) was urging both Senate and the House of Representatives to reject the reintroduced bill, the National Broadcasting Commission ( NBC) which reintroduced the bill to the National  Assembly was quoted as saying "One of our major problems now is the Social Media. Unless there is a law that allows NBC to act on social media issues, the issue will continue to be a monster in our daily lives in this Country".

" You can see why I said the Nigerian Journalists will continue to remain an endangered species, as every effort is being geared towards burying facts, truth and exposures by journalists by the powers that be.

"But unfortunately for them, I have bad news for them and good news for the media. Check out the latest statistics from the Nigerian Communication Commission (NCC) as at August 2023 said the total active mobile phone subscribers in Nigeria is 220,715,961. While that of internet subscribers stood at 159,034,717 with a broadband penetration of 45.57%. What this means is that, aside from the conventional trained and practicing journalists, every active mobile phone subscriber, especially those with android, iphones and other gadgets have become either Citizen or Freelance journalists, churning out stories, pictures and videos at random. So,  how many will the powers  that be able to intimidate?

"But for us trained and practicing media men, we must for the purpose of mitigating these threats and violence against us apply the strategy of the famous Eneke, the bird, who has learnt to fly without perching since the hunter has learnt to shoot without missing.

Orok said we must adopt the following as a guide to our journalism profession- 

We must understand our area or beat of reportage very well before publishing any controversial story, especially when it has to do with figures and data.

We should not fall into the temptation of the story being everywhere, when you have not investigated and have your own facts and figures available.

In this season of cloning and falsification of documents, planting and photo shopping of photos and videos, avoid being tricked into reporting such cooked items.

 Not all stories we should report, no matter the interest, if we don't have key facts.

Avoid copy and paste stories, when we have not verified the facts about such stories.                            

Avoid being used or sponsored by people to settle scores or get back at their perceived enemies without   facts, because when the chips are down such people will deny the story and such.         


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