Nigeria has again recorded a decline in the international press freedom index, with six percent regression between 2016 and 2017.
According to the 2017 World Press Freedom ranking compiled by Reporters Without Borders (RSF), Nigeria’s record of press freedom came down from 111 in 2016 to 122 in 2017, out of 180 countries graded.
With the new record, Nigeria continues to rank alongside other countries hostile to free press such as Afghanistan, Chad, Philippines, Zimbabwe, Colombia and others.
While Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark and Netherland top the list of the countries with the highest regard for press freedom in that order, North Korea, Eritrea, Turkmenistan, Syria and China remain at the bottom of the ladder.
Violence against journalists and media is rare in Norway, the report says.
But situation is different in Nigeria and other countries with negative report about press freedom.
According to the report, “ In Nigeria, it is nearly impossible to cover stories involving politics, terrorism, or financial embezzlement.
“Journalists are often threatened, subjected to physical violence, or denied access to information by government officials, police, and sometimes the public itself.
“The all-powerful regional governors are often their most determined persecutors. As Africa’s most populous nation, Nigeria nonetheless has more than 100 independent media outlets.
“Online freedom was recently curbed by a cyber-crime law that punishes bloggers in an arbitrary manner.”
RSF said eight journalists have been killed across the world in 2017, while 193 are currently imprisoned.
Though no Nigerian journalist is included in the list, news reporters and publishers continue to face harassment in Nigeria without substantial protection of the law.
On Monday, President Buhari, Chief Security Officer, Bashir Abubakar, chased out the state house correspondent of PUNCH newspaper, Lekan Adetayo, from the presidential villa on Monday for reporting about President Muhammadu Buhari’s ill health.
Last month, the Nigerian police charged a blogger Kemi Olunloyo along with a Port Harcourt- based reporter, Samuel Walson for cyber crime after an elite Pastor, David Ibiyeomie complained that she defamed his character in a post. The journalists were kept in prison for a week before they were granted bail.
In January, the police stormed PREMIUM TIMES head office in Abuja and arrested the publisher, Dapo Olorunyomi, alongside the paper’s judiciary correspondent, Evelyn Okakwu for writing stories which the authorities described as exposing a “deep hatred for the leadership of the Nigerian Army’”.
The publisher of Saharareporters, Omoyele Sowore, was also harassed by the police in Lagos on the basis of a complaint about a report published on his website.
In September 2016, soldiers and officers of Nigeria’s special police, the State Security Service, arrested 10 journalists and media workers from the independent news website Watchdog Media News at the Douban Hotel in Benin, the capital of the southern Nigerian state of Edo.