By Gabriel Ewepu, Abuja
The Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre, CISLAC, yesterday, decried increasing attacks on journalists in Nigeria.
This was contained in a statement signed by the
Executive Director, CISLAC, Auwal Musa Rafsanjani, and made available to Vanguard, where the organisation pointed that intimidation and oppression of journalists regarded by the Constitution as Fourth Estate of the Realm and watchdog is a violation of human rights and a deliberate attempt to scuttle the democratic process as far as checks and balances are concerned.
Rafsanjani also pointed out that the intimidation currently faced by journalists and human rights activists by the state and other powerful individuals is unacceptable, and therefore condemned those who are doing so.
The statement reads in part, “The Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC) would like to use this medium to express our displeasure over the increasing intimidation of journalists and attack on human rights activists in the country.
“The intimidation currently being faced by journalists and human rights activists by the state and other powerful individuals is unacceptable. We would like to reiterate that the human rights and the freedom of journalists and human rights activists should be respected.”
The statement also referred to the abysmal position Nigeria was placed on the recent ranking released on the World Press Freedom Index by Reporters Without Borders, which indicated a decline of press freedom in the country.
“The recently released World Press Freedom Index by the Reporters Without Borders shows a sharp decline in Nigeria’s press freedom. On this index, Nigeria with an approximate score of 40 ranked 115 out of 180 countries on the 2020 index which is 5 places worse than the previous approximate score of 36 and a rank of 120.
“This negative trend is in line with other recently released indexes of the quality of governance and government in Nigeria such as the African Mo Ibrahim Index to quote one case of many”, it added.
However, CISLAC in the statement made it clear that journalists and civil society organisations have been instrumental to national development over the years based on the role they play in the process.
“We acknowledge the fact that journalists and civil society leaders have been instrumental to the development of Nigeria. Their investigative reports have helped to unearth corruption amongst other ills in the society and have led in many cases to significant asset recoveries and prevention of grand-scale embezzlement when law enforcement has been unable or unwilling to do so”, it pointed.
The organisation also vowed to fight for and support the rights of journalists as far as press freedom is concerned, “We would like to restate our commitment to support the rights and freedom of every journalists and human rights activists to practice without fear of intimidation.
“We call on these brave professionals not to be discouraged, but to continue to serve the Nigerian citizens.
“We call on authorities to resist political pressure and operate within the spirit of the law.
“We all have a responsibility to ensure that the freedom of media is guaranteed by law and practice.”