By Patrick Obia
Journalists have been charged to remain resolute in the discharge of their duties despite increasing media repressions and attacks.
This was the summary of a one-day summit geared toward “protecting press freedom, ensuring journalists’ safety” held in Novare Mall, room 208, FCT Abuja and organized by the Center for Journalism Innovation and Development (CJID) in collaboration with the International Center for Investigative Reporting (ICIR) and Nigeria Media Innovation Program (NAMIP).
The keynote speaker, the Secretary of the Guild of Editors, Mr. Iyobosa Uwugiaren noted that globally, journalists are being attacked daily.
The Editor said though press repression is a global plague, the level journalists and media outfits are stifled in Nigeria is alarming.
He averred that the journalism profession is not a crime but rather, a well-recognized profession enshrined in section 22 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended). Iyobosa fingered security agencies and State actors as major drivers of journalists’ attacks.
He posited that perpetrators move with so much impunity because the Judiciary; the custodian of the law and Constitution keep mute without applying the tooth-for-tooth punishment.
However, he urged journalists to always cross-check and report nothing but the truth in their reportage to avoid bottlenecks in the end.
Sharing his experience on press attacks, Citizen Agba Jalingo, Publisher of CrossRiverWatch said he has chosen the path of investigative journalism to hold the government at all levels accountable and will continue to do so despite the perils.
In words of encouragement, he charged participants and journalists worldwide, especially in Nigeria, to remain resolute in the journalism ministry they have been called into, no matter the threat that might come.
The investigative journalist implored his colleagues to be glue rather than antagonists amongst themselves.
Also sharing his experience was Mr. Haruna Mohammed, the Publisher of Bauchi State’s online investigative outfit – WikkiTimes.
Haruna, who was reportedly arrested under the command of the Bauchi State Governor prior to the general elections, lamented the level of attacks on the media despite being regarded as the fourth arm of government.
He said as Journalists, they are the sight and mouthpiece of the masses who bring the government closer to the people.
The Editor-in-chief added that journalists and the media ought to be protected, not attacked.
Other Journalists who shared that experience include Sinafi Omanga – The ICIR reporter; Chiamaka Okafor – Senior Reporter with Premium Times among others.
Journalists and media houses were also enjoined to put measures in place to protect themselves, especially in the field.
Earlier, the moderator – Benedicta Akpede, and Deputy Director, Journalism Program of CJID – Bisola Ajibola gave a background on press attacks in Nigeria.
The duo said attacks on journalists in Nigeria range from harassment, unwarranted arrests, equipment damages, and torture among others.
Participants are expected to come up with work plans for the safety of Journalists.
High points of the summit were questions and answers sessions as well as a photo session.