Journalists under Threat in Nigeria, Says Reporters without Borders

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Iyobosa Uwugiaren in Abuja

The global journalism watchdog organisation, Reporters without Borders, has declared that journalism practice is under intense threat in Nigeria.

In the report by body, which recently released its 2018 World Press Freedom Index, Nigeria was ranked 119 out of 180 countries surveyed, while the country was scored 122 in 2017.

The index, which, however, ranked Turkey 157 and described the country as the world’s biggest prison for journalists.

The global body said of Nigeria: “In Nigeria, it is difficult to cover stories involving politics, terrorism, and financial embezzlement by the powerful. Journalists are often threatened, subjected to physical violence, or denied access to information by government officials, police, and sometimes the public itself.

“The all-powerful regional governors are often the media’s most determined persecutors and act with complete impunity. Africa’s most populous nation, Nigeria nonetheless has more than 100 independent media outlets. Online freedom was recently curbed a cyber-crime law that penalizes bloggers in an arbitrary manner.”

In classifying Turkey as the world’s biggest prison for journalists, Reporters without Borders said the country was ranked 157 of the 180 surveyed.

The report observed that Turkey has experienced 58 point-decrease over the past 13 years in its index and is lagging behind Rwanda, Belarus, the Democratic Republic of Congo and North Korea, which took the rear in the index.

A statement released by the organisation in the Norwegian capital of Oslo during the launch of the index said the state of emergency in Turkey has allowed the authorities to eliminate dozens of media outlets with the stroke of a pen, reducing pluralism to a handful of low-circulated and targeted publications.

According to Reporters Without Borders, “Turkey is again the world’s biggest prison for professional journalists, with members of the press

spending more than a year in prison before trial and long jail sentences becoming the new norm—in some cases, journalists are sentenced to life imprisonment without the possibility of a pardon.”

The index showed that many African countries are doing better than Nigeria in the global index as the report showed that Ghana with 18.41 percent standing at 23 position, Namibia at 26, South Africa at 28, Senegal at 50 and Niger Republic at 63.

The world top 10 positions is occupied by Norway, Sweden, Netherlands, Finland, Switzerland, Jamaica, Belgium and New Zealand.

North Korea breasts the rear tape at 180 and it is closely followed by Erithrea, 179, Syria, 177 and China 176.