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Attacks on the Press in 2005 - Snapshots: Nigeria

Publisher Committee to Protect Journalists
Publication Date February 2006
Cite as Committee to Protect Journalists, Attacks on the Press in 2005 - Snapshots: Nigeria, February 2006, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/47c5671f23.html [accessed 22 October 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.

In January, police at an executive meeting of the ruling People's Democratic Party in the capital, Abuja, assaulted at least 10 journalists covering the meeting. One reporter was hospitalized after being beaten unconscious. According to local news reports, police attacked the journalists with batons and gun butts when they moved forward to photograph Chris Ngige, the embattled governor of southern Anambra state.

Also in January, State Security Service (SSS) agents in the southeastern city of Enugu raided newsstands selling the local tabloid Eastern Pilot, harassed vendors, and detained the local chairman of the Newspapers Vendors' Association. Local sources linked the SSS actions to reports in the Eastern Pilot about the separatist, ethnic Igbo Movement for the Actualization of the Sovereign State of Biafra(MASSOB).

On May 2, Omo-Ojo Orobosa, publisher of the weekly Midwest Herald, was imprisoned for more than two weeks after his paper accused first lady Stella Obasanjo of corruption. He was freed without charge.

Police in central Kogi State occupied the local chapter of the Nigerian Union of Journalists in June, demanding to see two reporters who had written stories alleging that armed bandits had humiliated the local police commissioner. The officers harassed the local journalists and detained the local union chairman.

Also in June, SSS agents arrested Haruna Acheneje, a correspondent for the independent daily The Punch in southern Akwa Ibom state, and held him for eight hours before releasing him without charge. Acheneje was pressured to reveal his sources for an article about the recently impeached deputy governor of Akwa Ibom, Chris Ekpeyong.

In August, armed SSS agents raided the offices of the Lagos-based weekly The Exclusive, detained and harassed vendors, and seized copies of the newspaper following articles on Igbo secession movements, including MASSOB.

In October, SSS agents arrested Owei Kobina Sikpi, publisher of the tabloid Weekly Star in the southern city of Port Harcourt, and jailed him for more than a month over an article that accused a local official of money laundering. The agents also confiscated the entire print run of the paper. Sikpi was eventually charged with several counts of publishing false information.

The National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), an official regulatory body, ordered the country's leading independent broadcast network off the air over its coverage of an October airplane crash in which all 117 passengers died. It accused Daar Communications group's African Independent Television and its radio network, RayPower FM, of violating journalistic ethics by reporting, among other things, that the crash left no survivors, before the government had officially confirmed the toll. The two media outlets complied with the order but were back on the air the same day following negotiations with the government. President Olusegun Obasanjo said he was shocked by the NBC's order, and that the media outlets should have been commended, rather than closed.

In late November, security forces under the authority of the federal government stormed a radio station owned by the local government of southern Bayelsa state. The station was closed as federal authorities intensified their efforts to unseat the state governor, Diepreye Alamieyeseigha. Alamieyeseigha embarrassed Nigerian authorities after he jumped bail in London, where he was due to stand trial for alleged money laundering, and returned in disguise to his home district.

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