Last Updated: Friday, 26 December 2014, 13:50 GMT

Attacks on the Press in 1996 - Niger

Publisher Committee to Protect Journalists
Publication Date February 1997
Cite as Committee to Protect Journalists, Attacks on the Press in 1996 - Niger, February 1997, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/47c5650e23.html [accessed 28 December 2014]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Gen. Sani Abacha escalated his brutal tactics aimed at decimating the independent press and driving journalists out of their profession or into exile. The incommunicado detention without charge of Tell editor Nosa Igiebor, TheNEWS editor Bayo Onanuga, media attorney Gani Fawehinmi, and numerous other media professionals and their legal representatives paled in comparison with the assassination in broad daylight of Kudirat Abiola, wife of publisher and President-elect Moshood Abiola, and the attempted assassination of Alex Ibru, publisher of The Guardian.

The year saw a rash of detentions of independent journalists – all without charge – in connection with articles that were critical of the military regime and its officials. Journalists were under constant pressure to name their sources, but chose to face indefinite prison stays rather than provide information to State Security Service (SSS) agents or their interrogators.

A number of purportedly privately owned publications came into existence, under the leadership of individuals with no previous media experience who are unknown to the country's media professionals. The financing for many of these publications is believed to come from individuals connected to Gen. Abacha's regime.

The year ended with a number of arrests of editors and correspondents employed by the independent press and the announcement of the establishment of a press court, a separate court with a mandate to function solely for the purpose of prosecuting journalists and media professionals. Additional restrictions in the form of a media council, a body of six presidential appointees who manage the annual printed press registration process, was instituted by Decree 43. Among the list of requirements for registration are a pre-registration deposit of 250,000 naira (US$3,100) and a non-refundable fee of 100,000 naira (US$1,240), and evidence concerning the good character, competence, and integrity of the directors and of other persons responsible for or in charge of the publication of newspapers or magazines. License renewal is contingent upon the media council's satisfaction with the publication's performance.

CPJ, through its international campaign, "Nigeria: The Press Under Siege," worked closely with Lagos-based journalists to secure the June release of Igiebor, and the subsequent release of Onanuga and Fawehinmi, and continues to spotlight attention on the crisis facing Nigeria's independent press.

May 5
Ibrahim Hamidou, Tribune du Peuple, IMPRISONED

Hamidou, managing director of the independent weekly Tribune du Peuple, was arrested without charge in connection with the May 3 publication of an article critical of Col. Ibrahim Barre Mainassara. Hamidou was released on May 13.

July 6
Radio Anfani, CENSORED

Soldiers took over the offices of Radio Anfani (FM100 MHZ), a privately owned radio station and Voice of America affiliate in Niamey. The military's actions were believed to be in retaliation for the station's coverage of the political opposition during the run-up to presidential elections, held July 7-8. Radio Anfani resumed broadcasting on Aug. 4.

July 30
Abdoulaye Senyi, Haske, British Broadcasting Corp. (BBC), IMPRISONED

Senyi, a reporter for the independent newspaper Haske and a correspondent for the BBC, was arrested, apparently because of a BBC broadcast in which Senyi quoted a U.S. State Department communiqué that said the U.S. government intended to cut aid to Niger. Senyi was not charged. He was released on Aug. 3.

Copyright notice: © Committee to Protect Journalists. All rights reserved. Articles may be reproduced only with permission from CPJ.

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