- Title: NIGERIA: Murder of journalists raises fear of threat to freedom of the press
- Date: 5th May 2010
- Summary: EXTERIORS OF OFFICE OF THE NIGERIAN UNION OF JOURNALISTS SIGN BOARD READING "LADI LAWAL PRESS CENTER" VARIOUS OF WAHAAB OBI, PRESIDENT NIGERIA UNION OF JOURNALISTS WORKING IN HIS OFFICE (SOUNDBITE) (English) WAHAAB OBI, PRESIDENT, NIGERIA UNION OF JOURNALISTS SAYING: "Generally based on the events of the past, based on the circumstances in which we have to work, journalism is seriously endangered, because whether we like it or not, people on their own start to be honestly cautious, and impose certain burden on their side because you have to be alive to make any difference or for people to practice their profession."
- Embargoed: 20th May 2010 13:00
- Location: Nigeria
- Country: Nigeria
- Topics: Crime / Law Enforcement,Communications
- Reuters ID: LVAEICXWNTBFOATU4YOVYNIJF3IF
- Story Text: As the world marks World Press Freedom Day on Monday (May 3), Nigeria's press freedom has come under attack after 3 journalist were killed in less than a week under mysterious circumstances while on duty, a leading journalist has said.
Nigeria's has always enjoyed one of the most vibrant media in Africa after the end of military rule during which many journalists were beaten, jailed and even killed, some by letter bombs.
Wahaab Obi, President of the Nigeria Union of Journalists in Lagos said his members, many of whom at times brave several months without pay from the media groups they work for, now faced danger while carrying out their duties or even while resting in their houses.
"Generally based on the events of the past, based on the circumstances in which we have to work, journalism is seriously endangered, because whether we like it or not, people on their own start to be honestly cautious, and impose certain borders on their side, because, you have to be alive to make any difference or for people to practice their profession," said Obi.
The three journalists were killed in two separate incidents in one weekend, on April 24.
In one incident, Muslim rioters in the restive town of Jos, killed two journalists.
The two reporters, who were working for a local Christian newspaper were stabbed to death on Saturday (May 1), as they rode on a motorbike to interview a local politician.
Also on the same day, court reporter Edo Sule Ugbagwu, 42, working for the private daily The Nation, was shot dead at his home by two gunmen.
In both cases no arrests have been made so far by the police.
Obi said as leader of the union, he now found it difficult to convince his members to carry on with their duties without fear or favour, only for them to be either served hefty lawsuits or attacked.
"This still continues to happen, you feel to stop and find it difficult to even urge members to be patriotic because the system has refused to cater for them. The police are not properly equipped, the police are not even properly trained to even bring these people (killers) to bookâ€¦ the training is not there, the motivation is not there, and commitment on part of government is not there, so what do you do? It is unfortunate, one only hopes that government will reason that to protect the lives of media practitioners is to protect and guarantee democracy in Nigeria," he said.
Nigeria has more than eight major newspapers publications, several television stations and a dozens of other smaller daily tabloid papers.
Newspapers readership has been on a sharp increase in recent times, resulting in the launch of newspapers such as NEXT, now famous for its news breaking stories and fearless reporting.
Ardent readers in Lagos such as Kolade Obi said they valued newspaper reports but were concerned about attacks on reporters and urged government to protect them.
"We sit (live) in Lagos but when we read the papers we know what is happening in Abuja or Port Harcourtâ€¦so killing journalists is too bad," said Obi.
Others said without a free media very little would have been achieved in terms of development in the country.
"The media had really contributed to the development of our nuances democracy, so they are really doing a good job," said Olowobiefe Sunday, a Lagos based banker.
Nigerian Union of Journalists say it has over 3000 members working across the country bringing news to the people of Africa's most populous country.
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