News / Africa

    Nigerian Journalists Fear Violence in Election Run-up

    FILE - Journalists hold placards as they protest along a road days after a journalist was assaulted by mortuary attendants at the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital, in Lagos, Aug. 16, 2012.   FILE - Journalists hold placards as they protest along a road days after a journalist was assaulted by mortuary attendants at the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital, in Lagos, Aug. 16, 2012.
    x
    FILE - Journalists hold placards as they protest along a road days after a journalist was assaulted by mortuary attendants at the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital, in Lagos, Aug. 16, 2012.
    FILE - Journalists hold placards as they protest along a road days after a journalist was assaulted by mortuary attendants at the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital, in Lagos, Aug. 16, 2012.
    Heather Murdock
    As Nigeria gets ready for national elections in 2015, the Nigerian Union of Journalists is warning that politicians may try to intimidate reporters. Nigerian journalists say they already face regular hostilities, including beatings by both officials and the public.

    It is not unusual in many parts of the world for journalists to get harassed.  Many people feel the cameras and questions are invasion of their privacy or run counter to their country’s best interests.

    The Nigerian Union of Journalists says the problem is particularly common in Nigeria around election time when politicians go out of their way to manipulate the news.

    “Politicians will recruit thugs to beat journalists up simply because we write the truth.  We present issues as they are in this country,” said Dominique Eze Uzo, secretary of the journalists’ union in Kaduna.

    Journalists in danger

    Journalists say they are also in more danger during a security crisis, and many Nigerians fear the upcoming elections will be bloody.  After the 2011 presidential elections, more than 800 people were killed in clashes in Kaduna.

    Newspaper reporter Walter Uba says journalists become targets during clashes, because participants fear getting caught.

    “Many journalists are wounded and when they are wounded these people that are actually perpetrating this kind of thing is not brought to book," he said. "The journalist is left alone to suffer the pain.  He is left in the cold while the perpetrators go scot free.”

    Human Rights Watch says 3,000 people have been killed in “horrific sectarian violence” in Nigeria since 2010, and almost no one has been held accountable.  Islamist insurgents have also killed thousands of people in attacks, including the bombings of three newspaper offices.

    A radio reporter in northern Nigeria, Sani Ahmed Lere, says that besides being targets of terrorists, reporters unintentionally antagonize security forces following attacks, by continuing to work after the the area has been locked down with a curfew.

    “Like me, just like me.  I was one time beaten by soldiers just because I was on my way going to work and there was curfew in Kaduna,” said Lere.

    Offical reply

    Officials in Kaduna say security forces never attack journalists because they are journalists.  If reporters get hurt, it may be because they were behaving in a way that provoked security guards, says the media chief for the Kaduna State government, Ahmed Meyaki. 

    “There are deliberate plans between government and security agencies to ensure that journalists, you know, are treated as professionals.  Then also, we also have to equally call on journalists to conduct themselves as professionals,” he said.

    Media rights group Freedom House calls Nigeria’s press “partly free” but many in Nigeria would call it a "free for all."

    Union secretary Uzo says the erratic nature of the press in Nigeria is partly responsible for the tensions.  Newspapers frequently issue identification cards to reporters, but no salaries.  As a result, many journalists make a living by taking pay-offs from politicians, government officials and other people interested in manipulating the news. 

    No great surprise, Uzo adds, in one of the most corrupt countries on earth.

    “It boils down on the system that we find ourselves on in this country," he said. "The corruption that is eating the fiber of this country that is responsible for what you are seeing within the journalism profession in this country.”

    But amid the chaos, he says, Nigeria is also home to many credible media houses that need to operate freely to prepare the public for the upcoming elections.  If the press is intimidated into reporting lies, he asks, how will people know how to vote?

    Ibrahima Yakubu contributed to this report from Kaduna.

    You May Like

    Former US Envoys Urge Obama to Delay Troop Cuts in Afghanistan

    Keeping troop levels up during conflict with both Taliban and Islamic State is necessary to support Kabul government, they say

    First Lady to Visit Africa to Promote Girls' Education

    Michele Obama will be joined by daughters and actresses Meryl Streep and Freida Pinto

    Video NYSE Analyst: Brexit Will Continue to Place Pressure on Markets

    Despite orderly pricing and execution strategy at the New York Stock Exchange, analyst explains added pressure on world financial markets is likely

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: theodore ewoluwa from: ibadan nigeria
    January 30, 2014 11:17 AM
    journalists should reduce their casualty by adopting the rule of observing the sensibilities of the region as well as refrain from acting as agents of western powers in their rage to turn nigeria into a congo or liberia. indeed all journalists covering the elections should attend a special course put together for them at the jos institute of policy.

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Unchartered Territoryi
    X
    June 24, 2016 9:38 PM
    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Unchartered Territory

    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.
    Video

    Video Tunisian Fishing Town Searches for Jobs, Local Development Solutions

    As the European Union tries to come to grips with its migrant crisis, some newcomers are leaving voluntarily. But those returning to their home countries face an uncertain future.  Five years after Tunisia's revolution, the tiny North African country is struggling with unrest, soaring unemployment and plummeting growth. From the southern Tunisian fishing town of Zarzis, Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at a search for local solutions.
    Video

    Video 'American Troops' in Russia Despite Tensions

    Historic battle re-enactment is a niche hobby with a fair number of adherents in Russia where past military victories are played-up by the Kremlin as a show of national strength. But, one group of World War II re-enactors in Moscow has the rare distinction of choosing to play western ally troops. VOA's Daniel Schearf explains.
    Video

    Video Experts: Very Few Killed in US Gun Violence Are Victims of Mass Shootings

    The deadly shooting at a Florida nightclub has reignited the debate in the U.S. over gun control. Although Congress doesn't provide government health agencies funds to study gun violence, public health experts say private research has helped them learn some things about the issue. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
    Video

    Video Trump Unleashes Broadside Against Clinton to Try to Ease GOP Doubts

    Recent public opinion polls show Republican Donald Trump slipping behind Democrat Hillary Clinton in the presidential election matchup for November. Trump trails her both in fundraising and campaign organization, but he's intensifying his attacks on the former secretary of state. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.
    Video

    Video Muslim American Mayor Calls for Tolerance

    Syrian-born Mohamed Khairullah describes himself as "an American mayor who happens to be Muslim." As the three-term mayor of Prospect Park, New Jersey, he believes his town of 6,000 is an example of how ethnicity and religious beliefs should not determine a community's leadership. Ramon Taylor has this report from Prospect Park.
    Video

    Video Internal Rifts Over Syria Policy Could Be Headache for Next US President

    With the Obama administration showing little outward enthusiasm for adopting a more robust Syria policy, there is a strong likelihood that the internal discontent expressed by State Department employees will roll over to the next administration. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports.
    Video

    Video Senegal to Park Colorful ‘Cars Rapide’ Permanently

    Brightly painted cars rapide are a hallmark of Dakar, offering residents a cheap way to get around the capital city since 1976. But the privately owned minibuses are scheduled to be parked for good in late 2018, as Ricci Shryock reports for VOA.
    Video

    Video Florida Gets $1 Million in Emergency Government Funding for Orlando

    The U.S. government has granted $1 million in emergency funding to the state of Florida to cover the costs linked to the June 12 massacre in Orlando. U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced the grant Tuesday in Orlando, where she met with survivors of the shooting attack that killed 49 people. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video How to Print Impossible Shapes with Metal

    3-D printing with metals is rapidly becoming more advanced. As printers become more affordable, the industry is partnering with universities to refine processes for manufacturing previously impossible things. A new 3-D printing lab aims to bring the new technology closer to everyday use. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Big Somali Community in Minnesota Observes Muslim Religious Feast

    Ramadan is widely observed in the north central US state of Minnesota, which a large Muslim community calls home. VOA Somali service reporter Mohmud Masadde files this report from Minneapolis, the state's biggest city.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora