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Nigerian journalists face intimidation, assassination – NHRC

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By Emeka Chiagahanam

EXECUTIVE Secretary National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) Tony Ojukwu, says Nigerian journalists are faced with challenges ranging from intimidation and assassination despite being critical agents for the protection of democracy and development.

  Mr. Ojukwu stated this in a statement on Tuesday in celebration of the World Press Freedom Day, describing journalists as the oxygen of democracy.

  “Nigerian journalists fought very hard to achieve our democratic status and deserve a better deal unlike the current situation where many of them struggle with poor conditions of service,” he said.

  Mr Ojukwu added that journalists faced other challenges, including censorship, harassment and in some cases, assassinations even though their constitutional duties are enshrined in the constitution.

   “Their constitutional duty is enshrined in Section 22 of the 1999 Constitution as amended, ‘to hold the government accountable to the people’ distinguishes them as those who perform an essential duty to the nation,” he stressed.

  He also mentioned that with Nigeria at the crossroads, the press would be needed to ensure justice, equity and fairness to stabilise “our democracy.”

  He added, “The press must defend democracy by its commitment to holding our governments accountable to the truth always no matter the difficulties of the times.”

  According to him, the press should remain the conscience of the nation.

  “This year’s theme, ‘Journalism under digital siege’, is apt as it seeks to bring to the fore, the impact of the digital era on the freedom of the press, the security of journalists and access to information and privacy,” he stressed.

   Mr Ojukwu further stated that it “is incontestable” that the advent of the internet and boost in digital communication had benefited humanity in various ways.

  He also stressed that at the same time “it has threatened our right to privacy, since virtually nothing is hidden from the internet radar.”

  Mr Ojukwu explained that it was a time to pay tribute to journalists, either human rights defenders in custody or captivity or have lost their lives in the line of duty.

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