international non-governmental organisation has release 2020 World Press Freedom Index has ranked Nigeria 115th out of 180 countries.
The top 10 countries ranked on the Press Freedom Index are Norway, Finland, Denmark, Sweden, Netherlands, Jamaica, Costa Rica, Switzerland, New Zealand, and Portugal while North Korea was ranked 180th.
The index cited the killing, detention and brutalisation of journalists alongside targeted attempts to shrink the civic space by the Nigerian Government as reason for the ranking.
From the ranking, “Nigeria is now one of West Africa’s most dangerous and difficult countries for journalists, who are often spied on, attacked, arbitrarily arrested or even killed.
The report stated further: “With more than 100 independent newspapers, Africa’s most populous nation enjoys real media pluralism but covering stories involving politics, terrorism or financial embezzlement by the powerful is very problematic. Journalists are often denied access to information by government officials, police and sometimes the public itself.
“The all-powerful regional governors are often their most determined persecutors and act with complete impunity. In 2018, one governor had part of the premises of a radio station razed after a series of reports criticising his handling of local affairs.
“The police also detained a journalist for several days in an attempt to identify his sources. Online freedom is restricted by a 2015 cyber-crime law that is widely used to arrest and prosecute journalists and bloggers in an arbitrary manner.”
In 2019, more than three journalists were abducted and arbitrarily detained for their works in exposing corruption.
They are Agba Jalingo of Cross River Watch, Omoyele Sowore of SaharaReporters and Dadiyata, a vocal social media critic of President Muhammadu Buhari and others.
Two journalists have been shot dead while covering the Islamic Movement in Nigeria protests – one in July 2019 and the other in January 2020 – without any proper investigation with the aim of identifying those responsible.
“The campaign for the elections in which President Muhammadu Buhari obtained another term in February 2019 was marked by an unprecedented level of disinformation, especially on social media, much of it the work of officials within the two main parties.”