On March 13, 2018, a reporter from Daily Trust attached to the House of Representatives in the National Assembly, Musa Abdullahi Krishi, was abducted by policemen who claimed to have come from Zone One Command Police Headquarters in Kano. He was hauled into a Hilux Van from the Divisional Police Office at the National Assembly by a team of six plain cloth policemen who claimed to be taking him to Kano for interrogation.
Mr Krishi was bundled up, with no prior warning, his phone turned off and his family in chaos all in the name of teaching this journalist a lesson. As citizens we have to ask what implications this has for our Freedom of Expression and our fundamental human rights.
This incident is an example of the increasing attacks on journalists by state actors such as the police, DSS, army and EFCC. According to the Press Attack Tracker, the last 2 years has seen the harassment of 37 journalists, including one murder and one torture case, with no repercussions to the culprits.
This pattern is worrisome especially as the general elections are approaching; the government agencies keep on sending the signal to journalists that our words can be used to execute us if we do not dance to the tune of the state. This is something the international community and Nigerian citizens have to recognise as a compromise to our democracy.
We should all remember, as informed citizens that Section 22 of the Nigerian 1999 Constitution provides that “the press, radio, television and other agencies of mass media shall at all times be free to uphold the fundamental objectives contained in this chapter and uphold the responsibility and accountability of the government to the people.” We cannot forget that the media acts as the watchdog of the Government and once the state starts to use force to censor the media, they are letting its citizens know they will not be answerable to anyone, thus being above the law.
As we remember APC’s promise to fighting corruption and insecurity in Nigeria, we ask the security agencies to empathize with journalists just trying to do their jobs and remind them that they can open a civil case to address any story that one considers false.
The Coalition for Whistleblower Protection and Press Freedom (CWPPF) want to remind readers that only a free press can ensure the people’s access to the information necessary in building a well-informed, transparent and accountable society; while the press, on its part, is generally cautioned to desist from situations capable of leading to the misuse of its freedom and oversight powers.
Premium Times Centre for Investigative Journalism; Secretariat for The Coalition for Whistleblower Protection and Press Freedom (CWPPF)4