Speak Up on the Warrantless Attack on Journalists, Governor Bello Matawalle!

Speak Up on the Warrantless Attack on Journalists, Governor Bello Matawalle!

On Tuesday, 4 January 2022, the headquarters of the Thunder Blowers newspaper located at Fadama Plaza, Gusau, in Zamfara State was vandalised by suspected political thugs on account of its reporting and analysis on the activities of the Zamfara State government. Governor Bello Matawalle, whom the media organisation alleges is the sponsor of the attack, is yet to denounce or initiate any investigation aimed at bringing those who are culpable to justice.

The Coalition for Whistleblower Protection and Press Freedom, CWPPF, continues to condemn, in strong terms, this growing trend of state security attacks on journalists and the vandalisation of media outlets and their equipment.

This rising pattern of attacks and its evident constitutional breach raises worrying concerns for the protection of citizens’ rights, the ability of the state to ensure effective governance, and the statutory obligation of the news media to hold the government and state officials accountable as stipulated by the 1999 constitution.

In the same vein, we condemn and demand the immediate and unconditional release of Nelson Omonu, a journalist whisked away by security operatives believed to be working on the orders of Katsina State governor, Aminu Bello Masari.

This dangerous trend of constant attacks influenced by political powers threatens the health of the Nigerian news media and the resilience of our country’s democracy.

CWPPF also calls on Governors Bello Masari of Katsina state and Matawalle of Zamfara state to take prompt measures to end these attacks on the news media, protect journalists who through their investigative reporting expose corrupt government officials, and institute cautionary and disciplinary actions against state actors who engage in unruly attitudes against journalists and citizens.

CWPPF stands to defend the freedom of the press and expression.

Signed:
CWPPF Secretariat

About the Coalition for Whistleblower Protection and Press Freedom, CWPPF
The CWPPF is a group of media and civil society organisations committed to upholding democracy and good governance by protecting the ethos of whistleblowing, freedom of expression and press freedom.

CWPPF members
Premium Times
OrderPaper Advocacy Initiative
The Cable
Daily Trust Newspaper
International Centre for Investigative Reporting
Wole Soyinka Centre for Investigative Journalism
Premium Times Centre for Investigative Journalism (PTCIJ)
African Centre for Media & Information Literacy (AFRICMIL)
Civic Media Lab
Civil Society Network Against Corruption (CSNAC)
International Centre for Investigative Reporting (ICIR)
International Press Centre (IPC)
Media Rights Agenda (MRA)
Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ)
Paradigm Initiative
Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP)
HEDA Resources Centre.

Press Statement by Coalition for Whistleblower Protection and Press Freedom, CWPPF on the Growing Trend of State Security Attacks on Journalists and News Media Houses

Press Statement by Coalition for Whistleblower Protection and Press Freedom, CWPPF on the Growing Trend of State Security Attacks on Journalists and News Media Houses

The Coalition for Whistleblower Protection and Press Freedom, CWPPF, strongly condemns the growing trend of state security attacks on journalists and news media houses publishing investigative reports about public officials involved in corruption.

This dangerous trend threatens the health of the Nigerian news media and the resilience of our country’s democracy.

On Thursday, December 30, Tony Ufoh a journalist with Punch Newspaper was harassed by the Nigerian Special Police Fraud Unit [SFU] in the line of duty in Milverton Ikoyi area of Lagos. Mr. Ufoh was speaking to tenants who were reportedly defrauded by a developer when he was accosted by the police and his phone and Identity card forcibly taken and still unreturned.

This rising pattern of attacks, and its evident constitutional breach, raise worrying concerns for the protection of citizen’s rights, the ability of the state to ensure effective governance, and the statutory obligation of the news media to hold the government and state officials accountable as required by the 1999 constitution.

For the Government of President Muhammadu Buhari which came to power ostensibly to rid the country of corruption, this flagrant abuse of state power and resources by its agents blemishes its preparedness to enable the responsibility and accountability of the government to the people.

The police, on its part, is best served to restrain from abusing its powers using strong-arm tactics against the news media when its concerns should indeed be unravelling the alleged complicity of one of its officers in an act of corruption.

Thus, CWPPF calls on the Federal Government to take prompt measures to end these attacks on the news media, protect journalists from corrupt government officials exposed by journalists through their investigative reporting, and institute cautionary and disciplinary action against state actors who continue unruly attitudes towards journalists and citizens.

The graver danger is that if allowed to fester, this trend of attack on journalists for their legitimate reporting duty will embolden others, threatening journalism practice and freedom of the press in Nigeria, and – exposing a critical pillar for building and sustaining democracy in our country to jeopardy.


Signed:

CWPPF Secretariat

About the Coalition for Whistleblower Protection and Press Freedom, CWPPF The CWPPF is a group of media and civil society organisations committed to upholding democracy and good governance by protecting the ethos of whistleblowing, freedom of expression and press freedom.

CWPPF members
Premium Times
OrderPaper Advocacy Initiative
The Cable
Daily Trust Newspaper
International Centre for Investigative Reporting
Wole Soyinka Centre for Investigative Journalism
Premium Times Centre for Investigative Journalism (PTCIJ)
African Centre for Media & Information Literacy (AFRICMIL)
Civic Media Lab
Civil Society Network Against Corruption (CSNAC)
International Centre for Investigative Reporting (ICIR)
International Press Centre (IPC)
Media Rights Agenda (MRA)
Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ)
Paradigm Initiative
Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP)
HEDA Resources Centre.

Press Statement by Coalition for Whistleblower Protection and Press Freedom, CWPPF on Attacks on Critical Media and Investigative Journalism in Nigeria.

Press Statement by Coalition for Whistleblower Protection and Press Freedom, CWPPF on Attacks on Critical Media and Investigative Journalism in Nigeria.

The Coalition for Whistleblower Protection and Press Freedom, CWPPF, condemns, in the strongest terms, the growing trend of attacks on journalists and media houses which have published investigative reports about corruption allegedly perpetrated by government officials. It is a dangerous trend that threatens the vibrancy of the country’s media and its democracy.

On Monday, December 13, Fisayo Soyombo, the Founder of the Foundation for Investigative Journalism, FIJ, was arrested and detained at the Police Headquarters in Abuja by the Monitoring Unit of the Inspector General of Police, IGP. The journalist was detained over an investigative report, which exposed corruption in the management of over N1 billion appropriated for building transit camps for police officers across the country. He was released on bail after over six hours in police detention while investigations into alleged charges of “criminal defamation and cyber stalking” against him have been postponed to mid – January, when Soyombo might be invited back for questioning.

The allegations of criminal defamation and cyber stalking were made by Joseph Egbunike, an Assistant Inspector general of Police, AIG, who was fingered in FIJ’s report as the arrowhead of the alleged misappropriation of over N1 billion for police transit camp projects in Benue, Bauchi, Plateau, Katsina and Kano State, when he was Commissioner of Police in charge of Budget and Finance.

It is, indeed, shocking that the Nigeria Police, the institution called to account in the investigative report, and its leadership, would be more interested in defending an officer fingered in a corruption allegation instead of investigating the allegations against him. In arresting and claiming to be investigating a case of criminal defamation and cyber stalking against Soyombo, the Police wants to play the ignoble role of being a judge in its own case.

It is equally shocking that the Government of President Muhammadu Buhari, which came to power ostensibly to rid the country of corruption, is condoning such abuse of state power and resources by those accused of corruption to victimize media practitioners who are performing their constitutional duty of upholding the responsibility and accountability of the government to the people. It is particularly astounding that the police authorities have chosen to abuse their powers by using strong arm tactics against the media when the police officer alleged to be complicit in a monumental act of corruption has offered no exculpatory evidence or explanation in rebuttal of the allegations made against him.

Sadly, this is not an isolated case. For over four months now, another public official, Dr. Rufus Egbegba, the Director General of the National Biosafety Management Agency, NBMA, attempted to use institutions of the state to intimidate and harass the International Centre for Investigative Reporting, ICIR, and its journalists for a report on contract inflation at the agency. Dr. Egbegba used the Police Force Criminal Investigation Department, FCID; Department of State Security, DSS; Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC; and the office of the Attorney General of the Federation (Office of the Federal Director of Public Prosecution,) to threaten, intimidate or harass ICIR reporter, Niyi Oyedeji and its Editor, Ajibola Amzat, just for doing their work.

In Kaduna, Lukas Binniyat was arrested by the Kaduna State Command Criminal Investigation Department (CID) for the publication of a story about over the massacre of innocent citizens in southern Kaduna. Mr Samuel Aruwan, the commissioner of Home Affairs and internal security, had reported to the police stating a part of the report indicts him hence his arrest. These recurring arrests and harassment of Nigerian journalists by state actors is an indicator of the unwillingness of the government to accept and appreciate the role of media in a democracy.

We see the work of the news media, particularly investigative journalists, who expose corruption by state institutions and officials, as complementary to the Government’s stated policy of fighting against corruption. In exposing corruption in government, the news media is playing its constitutional role of holding the government and public office holders to account on behalf of the people. For this reason, the Government should see the news media as partners and not adversaries and define itself through support and protection to enable this accountability obligation.

As it is, allowing government officials accused of corruption to use state power and resources as shields from scrutiny, amounts to undermining the government’s credibility and supposed anti-corruption war.

We call on the Federal Government to take measures to put an end to these attacks on the critical media and protect journalists from corrupt government officials who have been exposed by journalists through their investigative reporting. We would like to warn that if allowed to continue, this trend of public officials attacking journalists for their critical reporting, will embolden others and would soon pose a really grave danger to journalism practice and freedom of the press in Nigeria, which are very critical pillars in building and sustaining democracy in any society. In fact, this trend, if not immediately checked, will pose a very serious risk to Nigeria’s fledgling democracy.

Signed:
CWPPF Secretariat

 

About the Coalition for Whistleblower Protection and Press Freedom, CWPPF The CWPPF is a group of media and civil society organisations committed to upholding democracy and good governance by protecting the ethos of whistleblowing, freedom of expression and press freedom.

CWPPF members
Premium Times
OrderPaper Advocacy Initiative
The Cable
Daily Trust Newspaper
International Centre for Investigative Reporting
Wole Soyinka Centre for Investigative Journalism
Premium Times Centre for Investigative Journalism (PTCIJ)
African Centre for Media & Information Literacy (AFRICMIL)
Civic Media Lab
Civil Society Network Against Corruption (CSNAC)
International Centre for Investigative Reporting (ICIR)
International Press Centre (IPC)
Media Rights Agenda (MRA)
Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ)
Paradigm Initiative
Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP)
HEDA Resources Centre.

Aregbesola to Deliver Keynote Address as West African Stakeholders Convene for Information Disorder West Africa Conference

Aregbesola to Deliver Keynote Address as West African Stakeholders Convene for Information Disorder West Africa Conference

The Honourable Minister of Interior, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola will deliver the conference keynote address as experts, policymakers, academia and other stakeholders from West Africa convene on the 17th and 18th of November to review and interrogate the mechanics of how communication crisis threatens the internal stability of states, institutions and critical national assets.

 

The conference, organised by the Dubawa’s Information Disorder West Africa Conference. The conference is part of Dubawa’s ongoing #WeekForTruth campaign, set to hold from the 15th to 20th November 2021.

 

The conference, organised by DUBAWA, the West African verification and rating platform, is an attempt to tackle the information disorder phenomenon as it affects different aspects of society and governance and to showcase the research outcomes of Dubawa’s sub-regional Research Fellowship which has been running for the past 6 months. 

 

The conference will feature high-level panels with distinguished participants such as the Director-General of the National Orientation Agency, the Country Director, Amnesty International and many other dignitaries.

 

Speaking about the timing and imperative of the conference, Mr Adedeji Adekunle, Programme Director of the Premium Times Centre for Investigative Journalism [PTCIJ], said “the resilience of democratic accountability and the ability of governments, institutions and citizens to forge a common bond on good governance and the integrity of democracy in our sub-region will depend largely on how we perceive and respond to the current threats of information disorder.”  

 

By the end of the conference, we expect that plausible solutions and ideas which will alleviate the negative effects of information disorder on governance, human rights, elections, healthcare and other aspects of societal living will be developed and shared. The West African scope of the conference will also redefine our problem-solving approach, utilising our commonalities and unique perspectives across the sub-region.

 

DUBAWA is a non-partisan verification and rating platform designed to help renew West  African journalism and democracy through the promotion of a culture of fact-checking and factual public debate. DUBAWA adheres strictly to the principles of the International Fact-checking Network (IFCN), to which it is a signatory. It currently has offices in Nigeria, Ghana, and Sierra Leone with footprints in Liberia and The Gambia as well. DUBAWA is a project of the Premium Times Centre for Investigative Journalism (PTCIJ), a West African centre for journalism innovation and development.

 

Groups criticise proposed amendment to Nigeria Press Council Act as threat to media freedom

Groups criticise proposed amendment to Nigeria Press Council Act as threat to media freedom

A consortium of four media development and media freedom organisations have opposed the proposed amendment of the Nigerian Press Council Act by the National Assembly saying the measures contained in the amendment Bill seek to make the government the arbiter of truth while subjecting the entire media sector in Nigeria to the control of the Minister of Information and Culture in violation of internationally accepted norms and standards. Read More

Coalition Condemns the Recent Attacks, Detention of Journalists and has Taken Legal Steps to Challenge NBC

Coalition Condemns the Recent Attacks, Detention of Journalists and has Taken Legal Steps to Challenge NBC

The Coalition of Whistleblowers Protection and Press Freedom (CWPPF) has condemned the recent detention of Oga Tom Uhia, publisher of Independent Steering Magazine; Tosin Ajuwon and Victor Ogungbenro, journalists with Sahara Reporters and death of Pelumi Onifade of GboahTV, and has taken legal steps to challenge the legality of the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) code. Read More