Journalists in Lagos State and Nigeria as a whole have joined their counterparts in different parts of the world to mark the International Day to end impunity for crimes against Journalists.
The event was organised by the management of Safety and Security Watch in collaboration with the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Lagos Council on Tuesday in Lagos.
The training hall of the Lagos Chambers of Commerce and Industry(LCCI), in Ikeja was full to the brim as Journalists, students, Rights Activists and many others gathered to grace the event.
In her remarks, Dr. Chinyere Amaechi; Publisher of Safety and Security Watch Magazine, who also doubles as Co-convener of the event, happily welcomed people to the event.
According to her, UNESCO reports that one journalist is killed every four days in the line of duty as nine out of every ten cases involving Journalists have remained unresolved.
She emphasized the need to appreciate Journalists globally especially here in Nigeria as their rights had been abused in the line of duty.
The publisher also urged Security operatives in every nook and cranny of Nigeria to be above board as the press was free in any democratic setting to operate.
Amaechi acknowledged the partnership of Lagos NUJ, saying it was the first time her outfit would be partnering NUJ.
At the event, Dr. Suraj Adekunle, Senior Lecturer,
University of Lagos spoke on the topic ”Safety of Journalists in a Pandemic Nigeria: Mask up or shut up’, while Dr.Ehi Iden discussed on: ‘Mitigating Safety Issues and impunity against Journalists in a Pandemic’.
The Nigeria Union of Journalists(NUJ), Lagos Council Chairman, Mr. Adeleye Ajayi through the Vice Chairman, Mrs. Abiola Beckley also delivered an address.
“Is an opportunity to devote some thought to the travails of media practitioners and to consider the important role of the media as we struggle to fulfil our constitutional and social responsibilities in a free and democratic society.
In many places around the world, journalists were killed, tortured, jailed and harassed for reports that exposed abuses of corrupt regimes; reports that undermined the work of terrorists and criminals; reports that gave voice to overlooked communities; and reports that countered disinformation.
“Over the past 14 years, 1,200 journalists have been killed globally for reporting the news and bringing information to the public.
Globally, it is a matter of concern that less than one in ten cases committed against media workers over the past decades had led to conviction.
“However, cases of killed and missing journalists are becoming more worrisome. Three days ago, the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Council staged a peaceful protest at the Force Headquarters for the safe return of the missing journalist, Tordue Henry Salem of Vanguard Newspapers,” Ajayi said.
The journalists urged Inspector General of Police Usman Alkali to ensure that the journalist who had been missing since October 13 is returned alive to his family.
Journalists urged the Inspector General to step up Intelligence and investigation to unravel the mysterious disappearance of the journalist.
“In Nigeria, there have been calls for the Federal Government to reopen investigation of journalists killed in the past.
“In view of the prevailing situation, Reporters Without Borders, a fully independent international organisation that conducts advocacy for Freedom of Information and Press Freedom ranks Nigeria 115 out of 180 in its 2020 data of press freedom ranking.
“As the way forward, people in authorities should make it a priority to support the growth of the free press and enhancement of freedom of expression.
“Legislators should therefore review all laws which infringe on the enhancement of freedom of the press and amend them appropriately to reflect the democratic status of Nigeria.
The Federal Government should take necessary measures through legislation protection mechanism and adequate resources to ensure investigation and trials relating to crime against journalists.
“There is the need for serious concern about the safety of journalists and the large number of media professionals working without Insurance cover”.Ajayi said
Key personalities at the event included Lagos State Commissioner for Information Mr.Gbenga Omotoso ably represented by Mr.Tunde Olalere of the Ministry of Information and Strategy, Ambassador Dr. Amaka Obioha; Safety Advocate and Literacy Icon; Dr. Segun Musa; BOT Chairman Safety of Security Watch; Dr. Ewedemi ISPIN; Omowunmi Ibraheem of the Lagos State Safety Commission; Bolanle Olumekor of the United Nations Information Centre; Olusola Ogunleye and Anthony Osution representatives of Federal Road Safety Corps Sector Commander in Ojodu Lagos,
Also present were Executive members of Lagos Council ably led by the Vice Chairman; Mrs Abiola Beckley.
A minute silence was also observed for Journalists that lost their lives to their profession as a panel of discussants x-rayed the challenges confronting Journalists and the way forward.