Nigria is currently ranked 115 out of 180 countries on press freedom index according to Reporters without Boarders. The country’s press freedom ranking has long been a cause for concern fuelling fears of possibly sliding further on a downward trajectory.
The shoking but not suprising statistics led the agenda at the U.S consul General converstion on press freedom, freedom of expression and civic space in Nigeria.
The event held at the US Consul General resident in Lagos Thursday, brought together journalists , lawyers and educators to brainstorm identifying the blocks holding back press freedom in Nigeria as well as effectively identifying ways to eradicate them.
Press freedom is a constitutionally protective rights but as many speakers argued , government have been accused of controlling the media and fascilitating the corruption that keeps certain stories from reaching the public.
Divergent views emerged from speakers and contributors on who is to blame and what needs to be done to improve it.
But the blame for censorship on the media is not on government alone according to the Managing Director of Arise News, Ijeoma Nwogwu, one of the panelist at the event who held that journalists have the responsibility to uphold journalistic ethics in executing their line of duties citing the report of DSS accrediting journalists to cover the July 26 trial of Nnamdi Kanu in Abuja court.
The International Press Centre (IPC) had condemned the decision of the Department of State Services, DSS, to accredit only ten media organisations to cover the trial of the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB).
“IPC is of the firm opinion that the Department of State Service (DSS) has no constitutional right to accredit journalists to cover the trial of Nnamdi Kanu or any other suspect for that matter based on the provisions of the National Security Agencies Act.
“IPC is amazed and concerned about this development which has no precedent anywhere in the world.
“The trial of Nnamdi Kanu is a matter of public interest and accrediting some media outlets to cover it violates press freedom and the right of the public to know,” the statement read.