Nigeria joined the rest of the world to commemorate the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists at a high level conference organized by UNESCO in conjunction with the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) at the Reitz Continental Hotel, Abuja, on 2 November 2015.
At the conference attended by over 75 participants, Mr Waheed Odusile, the President of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) called on the Federal Government of Nigeria to re-open investigations of killed journalists, and in particular the case of Dele Giwa, a journalist and founder of Newswatch Magazine, who was killed on 19 October 1986 by a letter bomb, to ensure that the perpetrators are brought to justice.
Mr Odusile listed the journalists who were killed, attacked, kidnapped and detained from 2006 to 2015 and asked for more concrete measures from the authorities to apprehend the perpetrators of these acts. He noted that recent developments in the country have further raised concerns about the safety of journalists and the large number of media professionals working without insurance.
Ms Adele Nibona, the Culture Specialist at the UNESCO Abuja Regional Office, while delivering the message of the Director General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova, urged the nation to take all the necessary measures – through legislation, protection mechanisms and new adequate resources – to ensure that investigations and trials relating to crimes against journalists are undertaken.
Participants commended UNESCO’s efforts in assisting the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) to set up a monitoring network on safety of journalists in Abuja and in all 36 State Councils of NUJ. The Monitoring Network objectives are: encouraging tolerance of diversity of views on issues and adherence to the rule of law in handling grievances, in addition to establishing, maintaining and sustaining professional relationships and communication between journalists and agents of the State.
Mr Harry Ogwuche Obe, Special Assistant to the Executive Secretary from the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), explained the statutory mandate of the Commission to deal with human rights issues. He called on journalists to take advantage of the existence of the Commission to access its services in 24 out of 36 States of the Federation. He stated that the Human Rights Commission is committed to mobilizing its resources to ensure a better and safer working environment for journalists.
The Commissioner of Police Mr Adeyemi Ogunjemilusi appealed to journalists to refrain from sensational reporting while declaring that a number of police reforms are being embarked upon that will ensure the respect for human rights.
Ms Ekaete Umoh, Director in the Federal Ministry of Information, gave a brief assessment of impunity for crimes against journalists in Nigeria and stated that press freedom has been enhanced through the Freedom of Information Act of 2011.