By Ochiaka Ugwu
The Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) has protested harassment and intimidation of its members by security operatives while discharging their constitutional duties.
Speaking in Abuja yesterday during the protest, National President of the Union, Comrade Abdulwaheed Odusile noted that Journalists have suddenly become an endangered species in the hands of security operatives.
The union also drew the attention of President Muhammadu Buhari to the resolution of Regional Conference on the Safety and Protection of African journalists organized with the African Union Commission (AUC) and the Federation of African Journalists (FAJ) at the African Union Conference centre in Addis which was on protecting newsmen better.
“We wish to draw the attention of His Excellency to the Regional Conference on the Safety and Protection of African journalists organized with the African Union Commission (AUC) and the Federation of African Journalists (FAJ) at the African Union Conference centre in Addis Ababa in September 2010. NUJ is a prominent member of the Federation of African Journalists:
“The outcome of that key event, which was attended by AU politicians, including H.E. Jean Ping, the then AU Commission Chairperson, as well as journalists’ leaders in Africa and the NUJ ‘, was the Urgent need to adopt a resolution on safety of African journalists by the African Union summit in January 2011.
“On 23 December 2006, the United Nations Security Council adopted Resolution 1738 calling on the protection of journalists in armed conflict situations. AU resolution on safety of journalists was meant to follow’ this resolution.
“Your Excellency, in Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country, journalists take great personal and professional risks to collect, process and disseminate news ‘and information to over 100 million citizens in 36 States and the FCT and beyond. But sadly, being a journalist today can often be a deadly pursuit, particularly for those covering conflict and other dangerous assignments.
“Conflict areas and post-conflict areas are predominantly dangerous environments for journalists. Other dangerous assignments include investigation of corruption cases, coverage of political activities and erections. The number of journalists that suffer various acts of impunity across the country and attacks on media equipment and facilities daily is on the increase and this poses great danger to democracy”.
They however, appealed to the Federal Government and all States of the Federation, to take effective measures for better protection of journalists and to fully implement the Declaration of Principles on Freedom of Expression in Africa, which clearly states that “No one shall be subject to arbitrary interference with his or her freedom of expression.