Ending impunity on crime against journalists

NEWS DIGEST – Every second of November is proclaimed as the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists as members of states are urged by the United Nations General Assembly to implement definite measures in countering the present culture of impunity.  However, according to the Global impunity Index report published by the Committee to Protect Journalists, CPJ, there have been several cases of impunity on murders of journalists in countries where ‘democracy’ is practiced. It is indeed painful when people capacitated by the power of the constitution in carrying out their duties, are being killed on a regular basis around the world; and their perpetrators are not prosecuted. Equally, the report indicated that during the 10 years Index period since September 2009 and ended on August 31 this year, around 318 journalists were murdered just for doing their jobs worldwide and 86 percent of those cases, no perpetrators were successfully prosecuted.

Well, In Nigerian context, apart from being a professional career, journalism is a call to national duty. This is for the fact that under section 22 of the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, media (journalists)- like myself- are always obliged to uphold the responsibility and accountability of the government to the people – freely. It is however appalling that, this section is being ignorantly violated by the haves and powerful, gangster and to certain extent, owners of the media. In this country, we have heard and seen instances where accountable journalists were killed, and some are still detained for carrying out their jobs as vanguards and watchmen of the society. Frankly speaking, there is no doubt that these acts of negligence from government and security agencies have contributed in crippling the ability and efforts of journalists to carryout their jobs efficiently and effectively.

Incidentally, it has rippled the rate of crime, corruption and mismanagement by cartels, government officials, multi-national companies among other stakeholders. Just recently, a young journalist filled with passion and enthusiasm, Gidado Yushau Shuaib was arrested alongside his webmaster in Abuja on Tuesday night, the 29 of October for publishing an investigative report on the 18th of May 2018 which was authored by Mr. Alfred Olufemi, an award-winning campus journalist from one of the premier Universities in the country. The report is titled: Inside Kwara factory where Indian Hemp smoking is ‘legalized’ and the factory, Hillcrest Agro-Allied Industry based in Ilorin is said to be owned by Former acting CBN Governor, Mrs. Sarah Alade. We only learnt in History and political science classes that; it was during the brutal military regime that journalists faced a series of human rights violation as a result of carrying out their jobs. Some were killed, others imprisoned while some went for exile in other countries finding refuge. Currently, the situation is somewhat like a replica of that dictatorship particularly during the Abacha’s regime.

This is because a series of journalists including concerned citizens and whistle blowers have been arrested and detained-some with, some without charges. Journalists like Jones Abiri, George Uboh, Stephen Kefas, Abubakar Idris (Dadiyata) whose whereabout is till yet unknown, and a host lot of others that their story is unknown. Most recently, is also the case of Fisayo Soyombo, an investigative journalist, who carried out a report to expose the ills of the police, prison and judicial system in the country. His life and that’s of his family is currently at stake due to threats.

The moment you are apprehended as a journalist, you are charged with either treasonable felony, terrorism, disturbance of public peace, defamation or even all these dubious allegations. Well, I strongly believe that journalism is a noble profession, and can be used to bring about positive change even with the ongoing challenges my senior colleagues have and are still facing. It is high time these ‘powerful leaders’ know that, “it is only a coward that dies twice, and we are not!” We the younger generation of journalists will not relent in unveiling the full force of this profession.

In a nutshell, as we celebrate another year to end impunity for crimes against journalists, our prayer is that, we hope the future of this noble profession, ‘journalism’ and the younger generations of journalists be spared of this same fate: for the struggle continues and victory is certain!

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