By Oluwatope Lawanson
The International Press Centre (IPC) in Lagos has announced that it is establishing a Centre on the Safety and Protection of Journalists (CSFPJ) as part of activities to commemorate the World Press Freedom Day (WPFD) 2023.
IPC’s Executive Director, Mr Lanre Arogundade, who disclosed this in a statement on Wednesday, lamented the increasing attacks on journalists and the media.
“Establishment of the centre is to further address the growing spate of attacks on journalists and the threats on media freedom in Nigeria.
“Mrs Melody Lawal has been appointed as the Coordinator of the centre.
“Lawal has the task of positioning the CSFPJ to strategically coordinate initiatives to respond to the challenge of addressing the worsening state of journalists’ safety and press freedom in Nigeria,” Arogundade said.
The statement quoted Lawal as saying that the indication of the deteriorating press freedom situation was the fact that there were more attacks on journalists and the media in 2022 than the previous year.
“Unlike 2021 when forty-one (41) attacks were documented, the IPC’s Safety of Journalists Alert Desk recorded sixty-six (66) attacks in 2022 with the perpetrators including law enforcement and security agents; political thugs and hoodlums, and unknown gunmen among others.
“The breakdown shows that four (4) attacks were recorded in the North-West; sixteen (16) in North-Central; six (6) in the North-East; twenty-six (26) in the South-West; four (4) in the South-East and ten (10) in the South-South.
“The types of attacks recorded include physical assault, abduction, gun attack, threat to life, denial of access to information, unlawful arrest and detention, harassment, threat to sanction and payment of fine.
“Twenty-six (26) broadcast journalists, thirteen (13) print journalists and twenty-four (24) online journalists were among those affected.
“In terms of gender, fifty-six (56) male journalists and ten (10) female journalists suffered one form of molestation or the other,” Lawal disclosed.
According to her, full details of the attacks and the modus operandi of the new centre on the safety of journalists will be unveiled at a media roundtable to be organised by the IPC on May 5.
The CSFPJ coordinator said that the roundtable would be organised in partnership with the West Zone of the Nigerian Guild of Editors and the Oyo State Chapter of the Nigeria Union of Journalists at Ibadan, Oyo State.
She said that the keynote address at the roundtable would be delivered by Prof. Tokunbo Adaja, Dean, College of Humanities and Social Sciences, Joseph Ayo Babalola University (JABU).
According to Lawal, the keynote address will have the theme “Protecting Freedom of Expression in the Age of Misinformation and Disinformation.”.
She said that the event would be attended by editors, media professionals and leaders of the NUJ, adding that the press freedom situation in the country would be discussed and recommendations made on how the deteriorating situation could be checked.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the World Press Freedom Day (WPFD) or World Press Day was established on May 3,1993 by the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA).
It is observed annually on May 3rd to recognise the great efforts and contributions of journalists in uncovering the deepest and unknown truths of society.
The theme of the 2023 World Press Day is: “Shaping a Future of Rights: Freedom of Expression as the Engine of Other Human Rights.”
According to the UNESCO, the 2023 edition marks the 30th anniversary of the United Nations General Assembly’s decision to proclaim International Press Freedom Day. NAN