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Release Journalist, Dipo Awojobi – NUJ President Chris Isiguzo



The Nigeria Union of Journalists is alarmed at the renewed onslaught against press freedom in Nigeria as evidenced by the clampdown on two journalists by agents of state in the last 48 hours.
While, Mr Abayomi Adeshida, a photo-journalist with the Vanguard Newspapers was beaten-up by security aides attached to Vice President Yemi Osinbajo at the Presidential Villa, Mr Dipo Awojobi of First Weekly Magazine was reportedly arrested by the police for alleged defamation of character.
These incidents are coming barely 72-hours after Nigeria joined the rest of the world to commemorate the International Day to end impunity for crimes against journalists.

Sadly, these two developments are just a mere scratch on several cases of brutality against the media in the last one year in the country.

No doubt Safety of journalists remains central to press freedom, and point particularly to the responsibility of the state in protecting media freedom and ensuring that there is no impunity for crimes against journalists.

Journalist safety goes beyond killings and physical assault but also include the absence of arbitrary arrest, resorting to exile to escape repression, harassment, destruction and confiscation of equipment and premises, and self-censorship in media.

Impunity for crimes against journalists has remained the predominant trend, with only few perpetrators of attacks against journalists being brought to justice. Impunity refers to the effect of exemption from punishment of those who commit a crime. It thus point to a failure of judicial system as well as creation of an environment in which crimes against freedom of expression go unpunished, posing a serious threat to freedom of expression.

The practice and expectation of impunity may further encourage violators of numerous human rights besides freedom of expression and press freedom, while also encouraging other forms of criminalities.
The safety of journalists is essential to the civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights of all of us, as well as right to development.

Journalists have been tried on spurious grounds as espionage, threats to national security or alleged bias. Many have been sentenced to excessive terms of imprisonment, and suffer unreasonably long pre-trial detention.

The NUJ therefore calls for unequivocal political commitment to ensuring that journalists can carry out their work without let hindrance. The international legal framework for the protection of journalists is in place. It must now be implemented at the national level-Nigeria government must create an enabling environment in which the rights of journalists and other members of society can be fully respected.

Our security operatives and the political leaders must bear in mind that the media has by happenstance become the only hope for every Nigerian. Therefore, any attempt at silencing the media and indeed free speech must clearly be seen as a direct invitation to anarchy.

We therefore demand the immediate and unconditional release of journalist Awojobi and other journalists currently in detention across the country.

Let’s not forget, that a supervised Press Freedom is no freedom. A stitch in time saves nine.

Chris Isiguzo
National President

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