Thursday, May 14, 2015CJFE is distressed by recent reports of persistent threats facing journalists working in Nigeria. Journalists in the country reporting on violence between the militant group Boko Haram and the Nigerian authorities have been subjected to detention, attacks and censorship as the government attempts to limit reporting on issues that have the potential to make it appear ineffectual. Ahead of the Nigerian presidential election in March of this year, two Al Jazeera reporters, Ahmed Idris and Ali Mustafa, were arrested and confined to a hotel in northeastern Nigeria for allegedly working without accreditation or permission. Idris and Mustafa had been covering military operations against Boko Haram and the presidential election and were accredited by Nigeria's national electoral commission. That same month Etim Ekpimah, a correspondent for the daily newspaper PUNCH, received several threats after publishing a story in which he described how government officials knelt toward the wife of the governor of Akwa Ibom state at a political rally. Numerous other journalists were also assaulted and chased while covering a three-day workers’ strike in Osun State in April. The aforementioned cases are only a few among numerous examples of journalists being persecuted since the start of 2015 while covering issues of public interest in Nigeria. Boko Haram has wreaked havoc in the north of the country since 2009, while the government has faced criticism over their inability to stamp out the Islamic militant group. Repeated kidnappings, attacks and murders from Boko Haram, coupled with a failure by security forces to guarantee journalists’ safety, have created an incredibly volatile environment for local reporters. CJFE calls on Nigerian authorities to thoroughly investigate all attacks against media workers and bring those responsible to justice immediately. CJFE also urges the Nigerian government to recognize the value of accurate information in its struggle against Boko Haram, and to undertake substantive efforts to ensure the safety of journalists in the country.
This letter of concern was sent to His Excellency Chief Ojo Maduekwe, Nigerian High Commissioner to Canada. Cc: Mr. Perry John Calderwood, High Commission of Canada in Nigeria The Honourable Rob Nicholson, P.C., Q.C., M.P., Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs