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Sunday, November 08, 2020

Ending impunity against journalists - ITREALMS

Commentary@ITREALMS ... making leadership SENSE with digital news!

On November 2,2020, Nigerians joined the world to commemorate the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes Against Journalists.

In Nigeria, the day was marked with lectures and workshops on stopping impunity against journalists across the country by various agencies and media groups. 

Due to prevailing developments across the country and more importantly in Lagos, Dr. Chinyere Amaechi, the CEO of Security Watch Magazine is putting together a webinar on "Journalists Safety: Curtailing Hazards Associated with  Digitalisation". 

The 2020 Global Index for Impunity for Crimes Against Journalists, released last week by the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), indicated that Nigeria is the only country that has come off the index from 2019.

In last year's report, Nigeria was ranked 13th across the globe and among the three African countries with impunity for crimes against journalists, only after Somalia and South Sudan. 

Unfortunately, recent #EndSARS protests have led to more impunity for crimes against journalists, going by attacks on five photo-journalists as well  as vicious destruction of two media organisations in Lagos, namely the TVC and the Nation Newspapers.

What is, however, reassuring is a statement from Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN) that "there are no rooms for complacency in ensuring serene online and offline atmosphere of journalism practice in the country." Going by this statement, the Lagos Council of the NUJ is maintaining its campaign for adequate protection for journalists across the state.

It will be recalled that a case instituted by the NUJ Lagos council on impunity for crimes against Mr. Benedict Uwalaka and Yomi Olomofe are still in law courts. 

A life insurance policy for journalists, through the National Secretariat by AIICO Insurance company, is still in place. Annual premium payable by every member of the Union  is  N6,700 only. It is important to note that members should endeavor to take payment of the premium seriously. Every media organisation is expected to also ensure it adopts life insurance policy for its members of staff, particularly journalists. 

Partly in line with the issue of life insurance and welfare for its members, the NUJ Lagos State Council has received a compulsory Health Insurance scheme proposal from Lagos State government. 

Safety first

Meanwhile, safety first! So, dear colleagues, we must adhere strictly to relevant rules of engagements and protocols for our safety wherever we need to carry out our social and constitutional responsibilities of news gathering and event coverage. 

Wear the Press jacket with bold inscription, where necessary

Do not walk or attend risky events alone

Avoid partisanship in discussions on volatile issues at points of event coverage

Always apply strict professionalism in handling materials sent for publication or broadcast

Use fact check options appropriately

Make immediate report of any attack suffered in the line of duty

Indulge in periodic medical check up

Finally, please ensure you avoid publication or broadcast of fake news in an attempt to break any news or be the first to inform people. 

I unreservedly salute our courage in going through damning risks, to carry out our constitutional responsibilities of making government accountable to our people. 

It is my hope that Nigeria will, henceforth, maintain a zero ranking in the global index on impunity for Crimes Against Journalists. 

Once again, I thank you all. 

*Contributed by the Chairman, NUJ (Lagos State council), Dr Qasim Akinreti.

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