Journalists in Nigeria are working in a “climate of fear” due to the detention of dozens of reporters and bloggers in the country this year, Amnesty International has said in a report.
Osai Ojigho, the Amnesty Nigeria director, on Monday accused the Nigerian police, military and the Department of State Services (DSS) secret police of being responsible for the clampdown on press freedom in Nigeria.
“Journalists, bloggers and activists are facing increased risks simply for publishing articles and demanding accountability from the authorities. This is totally unacceptable. The authorities must immediately put an end to this hostility towards human rights.”
The Amnesty official said there had been a disturbing rise in attacks on journalists for expressing critical views of authorities on both conventional and social media in the country.
“Increasingly, the human rights cost of receiving and sharing information for journalists, bloggers and activists comes with dangerous consequences, forcing journalists, bloggers and activists to operate in a climate of fear.”
Amnesty issued a report on Monday, where it cited the cases of journalists who had been detained, threatened or intimidated over the past five years.
In some cases, security forces harassed journalists who had expressed opinions critical of government policies. In some states, authorities used security agencies to target bloggers and silence dissent.
Amnesty examined the case of Abiri Jones, the publisher of Weekly Source who was arrested by the DSS in 2016 and held without access to family or lawyers for two years.
“He was released on 15 August 2018 and rearrested on 20 May 2019 before being put on trial for terrorism and cyber crimes charges.”
Some other journalists mentioned in the report said they had been “tortured” and beaten during interrogations.
International rights groups accuse the Nigerian security service of involvement in incidents of abuse, including arbitrary arrests and extra-judicial executions in the troubled northeast and other parts of the country.