A cohort of civil society and media organisations are set to hold a dialogue session to discuss the increasingly adverse environment within which media and civil society organisations operate in Nigeria, especially in the last couple of months.
The cohort is made up of Open Society West Africa, Premium Times, Premium Times Centre for Investigative Journalism, Amnesty International, Enough is Enough, Spaces for Youth Development and Social Change (Spaces for Change), SBM Intelligence, Connected Development, Shehu Musa Yar’Adua Foundation and Global Rights.
The dialogue, which will be held on Monday, December 2, has become imperative as journalists and civil society actors have become targets for both state and non-state actors within the country. In 2019 alone, the Press Attack Tracker has recorded over 60 attacks against journalists and media organisations ranging from physical assault to destruction of equipment, shutdowns and outright demolition of media houses.
An Amnesty International report details several of these violations including harrowing accounts from the journalists who have been victims of these harassment and attacks.
The NGO bill, sections of the Cyber Crimes Act and the contentious social media bill symbolise the urgency of the times.
Perhaps more worrisome is the complicity of some sections of the judiciary in this attempt to stifle agents of accountability and transparency in the country. Ratifying outrageous unconstitutional charges against journalists brought by state and non-state actors and rights defenders, placing onerous bail conditions are some of the ways the judiciary has contributed to violations of fundamental human rights and the rights of the press.
This dialogue presents a platform for media practitioners and civil society actors to re-examine the state of affairs and design strategies to turn the very dangerous trend of stifling freedom of expression around. The meeting will also be an opportunity for media organisations to deliberate and agree on how to collectively use their voice to demand justice and freedom for civil rights actors and activists alike.