The Media Rights Agenda (MRA) has accused the federal government of encouraging attacks against journalists and media organizations by its failure to take measures to protect journalists and punish perpetrators of such attacks whom it noted are frequently security agents or other government officials.
It said in a statement issued on Monday that the federal government’s failure to act to stem such crimes against journalists was a direct cause of the heightened attacks against the media.
The MRA in the statement said it had observed that at least seven media professionals and a media organization had fallen victim to various forms of attacks in about one week, with one journalist shot and injured by policemen.
The MRA’s Communications Officer, Mr. Idowu Adewale, said in the statement, “The growing spate of attacks against the media is alarming and harming freedom of expression as it is stifling the media environment, thereby, impeding the freedom and ability of journalists and media organizations to carry out their professional duties.”
He reminded the federal government that it has obligations under various regional and international instruments to ensure the safety of journalists and bring perpetrators of attacks against journalists to justice.
Adewale also pressed that the Government’s neglect to do so is not only encouraging more attacks against the media but also constitutes a breach of its treaty obligations.
He said, “It should be a matter of embarrassment to the federal government that despite the extremely alarming rate of attacks and crimes against journalists, it cannot point to a single instance over the years, since the inception of this administration, where the perpetrators of such attacks have been arrested, prosecuted and punished.”
He further noted that the perpetrators of recent raids against the media have included law enforcement and security agencies, hoodlums, political thugs, separatist groups, and criminal elements, among others.
He added, “The government’s inaction and apparent refusal to reprimand its officials who are guilty of such conduct, is being interpreted as an open season for anyone so inclined to attack journalists.”