Another assault on the media

A carefully wrapped parcel was said to have been delivered as a gift by yet to be identified persons through a young courier who in the process of trying to deliver it to a particular office fell victim of his evil intention as the parcel exploded and cut of his two hands. Three other bombs the young man was carrying fell off in the process but did not explode. The would be bomber was said to have been taken to hospital and is now assisting the Police in their investigations. No journalist was affected in this attack.

 

The first Nigerian journalist to have been killed using a parcel bomb was Dele Giwa of Newsatch Magazine in 1986. His murder has not yet been resolved 23 years after.

This recent development is worrisome to the Nigeria Union of Journalists(NUJ) as daily there are clear signals of such attacks on media professionals who work without any insurance cover. As professionals whose responsibility is to monitor governance and hold government accountable to the masses, journalists now live in perpetual fear of being arrested by security operatives or attacked by faceless assailants without any just cause.

It is worth stressing that the freedom of thought and opinion is a precious human right, and it is next in importance only to the right to live. To subvert it is to destroy all other freedoms. This freedom includes the right to seek and receive information from all available sources to enable formulation of proper opinions to whomsoever one desires and to do so through whichever means it is feasible to communicate. Such attacks we believe are meant to curtail such freedoms.

Attacks against journalists and media equipment are illegal under international humanitarian law. Despite this, the Nigerian system remains mainly antagonistic to the media. Between 1999, to date, various cases of assault against the media have been reported, yet not a single case has been satisfactorily investigated by the Nigerian security personnel. The NUJ is highly agitated by the yet-to-resolved killings of Omololu Folabi, Godwin Agbroko, Abayomi Ogundeji, Ephraim Audu and recently Bayo Ohu, among others.

One of the most pathetic cases of assault on the media was the death of eight journalists in the convoy of the then Governor of Plateau State, Joshua Dariye in 2007, which resulted in the death of Emma Adinoyi of AIT, Moses Ezulike of The Champion, Judith Adama of New Nigerian Newspapers, James Avre of Leadership, Musa Nuhu of NAN, Isaac Agbo of The Nation, Sudan Lar of NTA and Reuben Emeje of the Federal Ministry of Information. Another set of eight other journalists before the Plateau 8, died in a convoy accident while travelling with Governor Gbenga Daniel of Ogun State in 2004. Not a single of these journalists had an insurance cover.

In a democracy, security personnel should be seen to be protecting all and sundry and not only the interest of those in authority who can hire and fire them at their whims and caprices. Our securities system must be adequately overhauled and the personnel adequately trained to do what is expected of them.

Even in situation where the practice of the profession is so adulterated that only a negligible percentage of what goes into the airwaves and newspapers is actually journalism, in situations where journalists practise retail journalism and public relations, the media yet remain the pivot of the virile democracy and should be jealously guarded, protected but sanitised appropriately.

Shuaibu Leman,
National Secretary, Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ)



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