The international human rights advocacy organisation, Amnesty International, has criticised President Bola Tinubu’s administration for revoking the accreditation of 25 journalists covering the Aso Villa.
On August 18, 2023, the Presidency withdrew the accreditation of 25 journalists and media houses, citing “security concerns and overcrowding of the press gallery area” as the reasons.
The banned journalists reportedly were those from Vanguard Newspaper; Galaxy TV; Ben TV; MITV; ITV Abuja; PromptNews, ONTV, and Liberty. Other media personnel affected by the withdrawal are mostly reporters and cameramen from broadcast, print, and online media outlets.
The affected journalists were simply told at the main gate of the Presidential Villa to submit their accreditation tags.
Media freedom, media diversity, and the protection of journalists are a central part of the effective exercise of freedom of expression, AI argued.
In a statement, Amnesty International expressed its concern that this action represents a significant setback for press freedom in the country.
The Director of Amnesty International Nigeria, Isa Sanusi, emphasised the importance of media freedom, diversity, and the protection of journalists as essential components of the right to freedom of expression.
Sanusi underlined that the media plays a crucial role in conveying information and ideas on matters of public interest and ensuring the public’s right to access them.
He pointed out that Nigeria is a signatory to international agreements such as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, which guarantee freedom of expression and place legal obligations on states to protect this right.
Sanusi further noted that Nigeria’s own Constitution, as amended in 1999, guarantees freedom of expression, access to information, and media freedom. He stressed that authorities should promote and encourage the enjoyment of human rights, including freedom of expression and media freedom, rather than restrict them.
Amnesty International characterised the arbitrary revocation of journalists’ accreditations as inconsistent with Nigeria’s international and constitutional human rights obligations and commitments.
The statement read: “The media has a role and responsibility to convey information and ideas on matters of public interest and to make sure that the public has a right and the possibility to receive them,” a statement by Isa Sanusi, Director of Amnesty International Nigeria said.
“Nigeria is a party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights which guarantee the right to freedom of expression and impose legal obligations on states to protect freedom of expression and information.
“The Nigerian Constitution 1999 (as amended) also guarantees the right to freedom of expression, access to information, and media freedom.
“Authorities should encourage and promote the enjoyment of human rights including freedom of expression and media freedom rather than restricting them.
“The arbitrary revocation of the journalists’ accreditations is inconsistent and incompatible with Nigeria’s international and constitutional human rights obligations and commitments,” AI added.