Journalists in Nigeria were attacked at least 160 times in the last two years, according to a new report from Premium Times Centre for Investigative Journalism (PTCIJ).
The report said journalists in North-Central were attacked 47 times, making them the most endangered in the country.
The report, which covered the period of 2018 to 2020, made use of data from the PTCIJ press attack tracker.
The centre said the attacks ranged from physical assault to arrest, seizure and search of work equipment as well as threats.
It added that Nigeria – which ranked 115 out of 180 countries on the 2020 Press Freedom Index – has remained a difficult terrain for journalists to operate in.
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‘ATTACKS ON JOURNALISTS GO UNPUNISHED’
PTCIJ said while the data would “name and shame” authorities and “put them on their toes by this spotlight,” it would also serve as advisory to journalists and media organisations.
It noted that police officers were the highest perpetrators of attacks on journalists, followed by thugs, political figures, civilians and other security agencies – in that order.
“At 46.8%, physical attack where journalists are roughly handled, beaten, shot and experience other forms of torture, is the preferred approach to silencing journalists in the country.
“Almost all of these attacks go unacknowledged, unpunished and continue with impunity. Physical attack is followed by arrests (24.7%) and detentions often without recourse to due process.
“The attacks continue with impunity because media organisations and journalists literally cannot afford to protect themselves against these attacks and … this leads to a far more dangerous form of media repression and self-censorship,” the report said.
Tosin Alagbe, PTCIJ programme director, condemned the attacks, pointing out that “a free press is vital for every democracy.”
She said the threats and attacks faced by journalists in Nigeria have been worsened by “prohibitive legislative proposals” such as the anti-hate speech and social media regulation bills.