Attacks on Nigerian Journalists Rise in 2022
Agba Jalingo is a journalist and publisher of an online newspaper, Cross River Watch. The publication repeatedly put him on a collision course with the authorities of his Cross River State, particularly with the government of Governor Ben Ayade. Recently, security forces attacked him again, following a newspaper publication that offended the governor’s extended family.
In a interview shortly after regaining freedom from his last arrest and detention, Mr. Jalingo recalled his ordeal.
“I was upstairs and they insisted they wanted to take me. I wasn’t sure who they were. They could be kidnappers; it could be anyone on mufti. So I insisted that I should make calls to confirm if there was a warrant to arrest me.
The incident began on a Friday afternoon on August 19, when plainclothes security guards, who identified themselves as from the State Criminal Investigation Department of Police, stormed Mr Jalingo’s home in Lagos, the commercial capital of Nigeria.
Finding Mr. Jalingo’s wife and daughter downstairs, officials demanded to see Mr. Jalingo who was upstairs at the time. After a short standoff, Mr Jalingo surrendered and was taken to Alapere Police Station, Lagos. He spent a few hours there before being taken to Zone F, Ikeja, for a night behind bars.
The following morning, August 20, the journalist was flown to Abuja and held incommunicado. He was taken to what he later described as a “ghost town, a very large two-story building that was deserted” to obtain documents before being transferred to a detention center.
Fortunately for Mr Jalingo, he had alerted the public to his situation and sparked a public outcry and called for his release. Eventually, he was bailed and released after a relative vouched for him.
READ ALSO: Release of the kidnapped deputy of Taraba
It later emerged that Mr Jalingo had been arrested following a complaint by the wife of a younger brother of the governor of Cross Rivers, Elizabeth Frank, who had accused the journalist of defamation.
Mr Jalingo’s detention is one of more than 30 cases of attacks on journalists recorded by the Press Attack Tracker so far this year, making attacks in 2022 already the second highest in four years after 2019, when 74 attacks were recorded.
Some of the cases recorded in 2022 include:
April 21: The publisher of the Taraba Truth and Fact newspaper, Oloye Samuel, alleged threatened with death by security agents for his critical report on politicians in Taraba State, northern Nigeria.
May 13: State Security Service (SSS) stopped a blogger and Eagles Foresight editor, Ahmed Olamilekan, for posting about the alleged criminal records of Ogun State Governor Dapo Abiodun in the United States.
22 July: People’s Gazette head office in Abuja was raided by security guards who took away the newspaper’s deputy editor, John Adenekan, and four other workers: Ameedat Adeyemi, Grace Oke, Sammy Ogbu and Justina Tayani. The agents were reportedly after Samuel Ogundipe, the newspaper’s managing director.
July 5: Ikenna Ezenekwe, publisher of the online news platform 247uReports, was stopped by security officers following a petition filed by Primus Odili, who served as chief of staff to former Anambra State Governor Willie Obiano. Mr. Odili alleged that the journalist had published a defamatory article about him.
July 28: A PREMIUM TIMES reporter, Savior Imukudo, was stopped by order of Akwa Ibom Chief Justice Ekaette Obot while covering the defamation case brought by Akwa Ibom State Governor Udom Emmanuel’s attorney. against a lawyer, Leo Ekpenyong.
In addition to attacks perpetrated by security agents, there were also those carried out by non-state actors. Below is the deadline for some of these cases:
February 1: Thugs allegedly attacked and stabbed Channels Television driver Lekan Sanusi as the TV crew recorded a traffic jam on the Apapa-Oshodi highway in Lagos.
On the same day, members of an Arise Television crew who were also on the axis to report on the ease of movement around the ports were also attacked by the thugs who demanded that they stop recording.
February 21: Thugs suspected of being sponsored by Ebonyi State Assemblyman offensive the Secretary of the Union of Journalists of Nigeria, Ebonyi State Council, Nnamdi Akpa.
February 23: While covering local elections in Enugu State, southeastern Nigeria, a news crew from the Enugu State Broadcasting Service (ESBS) was attacked by men armed.
May 22: Thugs wielding clubs, charms, rocks and axes attacked and vandalized vehicles carrying journalists from a campaign stop by Osun Governor Gboyega Oyetola in Gbongan, Ayedaade Local Government Area . The attack injured four journalists.
READ ALSO: Demonstration of #12 June: the police arrest Agba Jalingo
May 30: Armed men invaded the premises of Anambra Broadcasting Service (ABS), Awada Onitsha station. According to a reporta building and buses used by the company for its operations were set on fire and damaged.
June 19: the thugs offensive journalists attached to the Lagos State government headquarters. The journalists were in the state governor’s entourage to welcome All Progressive Congress (APC) presidential standard bearer, Bola Tinubu, who was returning from Abuja to Lagos after the party’s primary elections.
June 28: A journalist with PUNCH Logs in Ogun State, Daud Olatunji and two other journalists were harassed and beaten by trade unionists who are imposing a strike in the state. Journalists attacked included Joke Adeleye from PM/TheNews, Michael Olaoluwa and Tutu Sobowale from online newspaper PlatformTimes and Busola from an Abeokuta-based radio station. This was despite the fact that the journalists boldly displayed their identity cards which identified them as journalists.
There are also cases where journalists have been assaulted by strangers. The reasons for these attacks are often very vague and difficult to draw conclusions. Cases like this include:
May 12: Unknown Gunmen removed Idris Haruna- Magami, a popular radio host from Zamfara public radio. Mr. Magami produces and presents “Su Duniya Manya”, a popular program broadcast in the Hausa language.
May 15: According to a report, an individual who has not yet been identified has repeatedly sent threatening messages to the Foundation for Investigative Journalism (FIJ). On May 15, the organization received the first such threats when the person sent a WhatsApp message to the official IFJ contact number, threatening to behead the recipient.
June 7: A journalist with the Guardian newspaper, Eniola Daniel, escaped kidnapping by returning home after closing her job.
June 16: Unknown broken in the Prime Times News office in Kano, vandalized and stole some of the outlet’s work equipment.
The attacks continue
Despite demands for press freedom over the years, the trends of attacks on the press have grown steadily.
These include physical assaults, harassment, threats, unlawful arrests, seizure of equipment and damage. By the end of August this year, Press Attack Tracker had recorded more than 40 press attacks, with the Southwest geopolitical zone accounting for most of these attacks.
Journalists have been attacked in retaliation for their work by state actors. State actors who deem publications defamatory and harmful often perpetuate these attacks without due recourse to legal proceedings.
Who is behind the attacks?
According to the observations, state actors account for half of the attacks, while non-state actors account for 36.4% and unknown actors 13.6%.
Essentially, the state actors who bear the greatest responsibility for guaranteeing press freedom are also the most culpable aggressors. These attacks have persisted despite demands for press freedom from civil society organizations, the media, rights activists, academics, etc.
Nigeria is class 129/180 by Reporters Without Borders in its table on the safety of journalists. According RSF, ”Nigeria is one of the most dangerous and difficult countries in West Africa for journalists, who are often watched, attacked, arbitrarily arrested and even killed..”
Speaking on the state of press freedom in Nigeria, Stephanie Adams-Douglas, Project Officer, Media Freedom, Center for Journalism Innovation and Development (CJID), said that although the constitution protects freedom of expression and of the press, “it is almost obvious that it is the failure to respect the rule of law that continues to put the media in danger. ”
Ms Adams-Douglas further said: ”Over the years, the media have faced various attacks in the performance of their duties, primarily when covering events, in the crossfire. The past four years have seen an upsurge in attacks, mostly by state actors meant to defend the press.
Ms. Adams-Douglas said impunity is the main act that propels attacks on the media. She recommended swiftly punishing all perpetrators of attacks on journalists, including those in positions of power.
“There should be penalties imposed on all perpetrators, including people in positions of power,” she said.
The Press Attack Tracker is a civic technology platform that tracks attacks on journalists in Nigeria. It was set up by CJID in collaboration with the Coalition for Whistleblowers and Press Freedom (CWPPF) and Leaks.NG, in response to the relentless attacks on the press in Nigeria.
Of Nigeria’s many national challenges, which do you think the next president should focus on first?
— Premium Times (@PremiumTimesng) October 5, 2022
Support the integrity and credibility journalism of PREMIUM TIMES
Good journalism costs a lot of money. Yet only good journalism can guarantee the possibility of a good society, an accountable democracy and a transparent government.
For free and continued access to the best investigative journalism in the country, we ask that you consider providing modest support to this noble endeavour.
By contributing to PREMIUM TIMES, you help sustain relevant journalism and keep it free and accessible to everyone.
Make a donation
ANNOUNCEMENT TEXT: Call Willie – +2348098788999