August 19, 2022
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Malami, Femi Adesina laud Buhari government over press freedom – Premium Times

  • November 3, 2021
  • 5 min read
Malami, Femi Adesina laud Buhari government over press freedom – Premium Times

President Muhammadu Buhari at COP26 [PHOTO CREDIT: Muhammadu Buhari]
Amid growing concerns over the safety of Nigerian journalists, the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, has praised the President Muhammadu Buhari-led regime for providing an “enabling environment for journalism to thrive.”
Three weeks ago, Tordue Salem, a journalist at Vanguard Newspapers, was declared missing in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital city.
Recently, journalists were manhandled and barred from covering proceedings in the ongoing trial of Nnamdi Kanu, leader of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) by government security operatives.
Last month during the one year anniversary of the nationwide #EndSARS protests against police brutality and human rights violations, armed police personnel teargassed and arrested journalists in Lagos and Abuja.
Some of them were arrested at Lekki Tollgate in Lagos during the memorial procession to mark the one year anniversary of the shooting of peaceful #EndSARS protesters by soldiers at the location in October 2020.
Despite a plethora of instances of clampdowns on journalists, Mr Malami said the Buhari-led government had helped Nigeria exit the ignoble class of countries with the worst records of crimes against journalists.

The Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami. [PHOTO: Channels TV]The Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami. [PHOTO: Channels TV]
The Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami. [PHOTO: Channels TV]

The minister spoke on Tuesday at a policy dialogue on the protection of journalists to mark the 2021 International Day to End Impunity for Crimes Against Journalists in Abuja.
The United Nations General Assembly adopted Resolution A/RES/68/163 at its 68th session in 2013 that proclaimed the 2nd November as the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists (IDEI).
Referencing the 2020 report of the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), titled, ‘Getting Away with the Murder,’ Mr Malami said, “The report indicated that Nigeria was the only country to get off the index of nations with impunity for crimes against journalists.
“This is another positive feather of development in the human right (sic) record of the Government of President Muhammadu Buhari GCFR that calls for celebration.”
While acknowledging that “journalism is not a crime,” and that journalists play a crucial role in fostering good governance and democracy, the AGF urged reporters to refrain from fake news and seditious reporting.
“Journalists are not in any way targeted for witch-hunt. It is essential to note that Nigeria operates a constitutional democracy that guarantees freedom of expression thereby providing conducive atmosphere and veritable platforms that enable Nigerians their inalienable fundamental rights to unhindered ventilation of opinions,” Mr Malami said.
In a similar fashion, presidential spokesperson, Femi Adesina, said “no journalist has been hounded under the Buhari administration,” but acknowledged the harassment and expulsion of Punch Newspaper correspondent at the Aso Rock Villa for reporting on Mr Buhari’s medical trip to the United Kingdom which lasted over three months.
He noted that no journalist needs to die in the course of plying their trade, an assertion further buttressed by Umar Pate, a communication scholar and Vice Chancellor, Federal University of Kashere, Gombe State.
“No news is worth the life of any journalist,” Mr Pate, a professor of communications, said in his lead presentation, ‘Ending Impunity for Crimes Against Journalists in Nigeria.’
Mr Pate attributed the plight of journalists in Nigeria to weak judicial system and poor remuneration.
“Weak judicial system allows impunity to thrive against journalists,” because they can’t seek redress when their rights are infringed upon.

The academic asserted that journalists’ safety is imperilled by both state and nonstate actors, lamenting that he had lost six journalists whom he helped train at the University of Maiduguri, Borno State, to insurgents.
“Individuals who killed those journalists have not been brought to justice,” an instance that amplifies Mr Pate’s concerns over weak judicial system in Nigeria.
In a goodwill message, Clement Boutillier, team leader/head of section, democracy, governance and migration of the European Union Delegation to Nigeria and ECOWAS, said there is no democracy anywhere without journalists.
Quoting the famous motto of the Washington Post, ‘Democracy Dies in Dark,’ the EU chief lamented that journalists are being harassed, jailed and killed across the world.
He added that despite the odds against journalists, the Nigerian press remains the most vibrant on the African continent.
Mr Pate recommended improved remuneration for journalists and strengthening of Nigeria’s judicial system to deal with cases of violence against media practitioners.
The Vice Chancellor also advised media organisations in the country to prioritise the safety of their reporters, especially in conflict reporting.
He admonished journalists to collaborate with government security agencies for safety purposes.
The scholar argued that there can be no accountability in government without a vibrant and independent media.
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