CPJ urges Buhari to Prioritize Press Freedom

buhariThe Committee to Protect Journalists, CPJ, has urged President Muhammadu Buhari to prioritize press freedom, by protecting journalists from assaults by security forces.

In a letter signed by Joel Simon, executive director CPJ, the media group said, “As Nigeria prepares to enter a new chapter in its history, we urge you and your administration to take steps to ensure that journalists are able to work freely and openly in the country without fear of reprisal of any form.”

The CPJ also asked Buhari “To abide by his public assurances that he will not allow authorities to abuse the trust of the Nigerian public. We are encouraged by your promise to take disciplinary steps against security forces who commit human rights violations, but there is a long way to go.”

The body said Nigerians have huge expectations about their future in the new dispensation of Buhari’s administration.

“It is now more than ever the responsibility of journalists to uphold their constitutional responsibility to professionally provide the society with news and information that we all need to make sense of our democracy,” CPJ said.

In spite of assurances from Buhari, Simon said, “Yet, as I write to you, Joseph Hir of Daily Trust has fled Nasarawa State following a vicious attack on him on May 29 by supporters of the state governor. He had hitherto been warned over stories not favouring the governor. Hir told me that he has been receiving calls warning him not to return to Nasarawa State.

“On March 17, before the elections, you told the Nigerian Press Organisation in Abuja that if you won the presidency, the Nigerian media will be free under our [All Progressives Congress] government.”

CPJ said security forces are the most frequent perpetrators of violations against the press.

Speaking in the same vein, the Lagos-based International Press Centre, IPC, also accused the Nigerian police and security forces from being responsible for 24 of at least 32 cases of attacks on journalists between November 2014 and February, 2015.

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