Reporters Without Borders this week released its 2017 World Press Freedom Index , showing Nigeria is 122nd out of 180 in the world rankings. Norway ranks number one, with North Korea at the bottom of the table.
On Nigeria, the NGO states:
“In Nigeria, it is nearly impossible to cover stories involving politics, terrorism, or financial embezzlement. Journalists are often threatened, subjected to physical violence, or denied access to information by government officials, police, and sometimes the public itself. The all-powerful regional governors are often their most determined persecutors. As Africa’s most populous nation, Nigeria nonetheless has more than 100 independent media outlets. Online freedom was recently curbed by a cyber-crime law that punishes bloggers in an arbitrary manner.”
Nigeria was 116th last year. President Muhammadu Buhari, was a military dictator in the early 1980s when he became infamous for enacting Decree Number 4 which held that: “Any person who publishes in any form, whether written or otherwise, any message, rumour, report or statement … which is false in any material particular or which brings or is calculated to bring the Federal Military Government or the Government of a state or public officer to ridicule or disrepute, shall be guilty of an offense under this Decree”. It was seen then as the most draconian anti-press law in Nigerian history.
Buhari has, since his return as a civilian politician, claimed that he is a “converted democrat”, but many are yet to be convinced.
Reporters Without Borders or Reporters Sans Frontières (RSF), is a non-profit NGO based in Paris that promotes and defends freedom of information and press freedom.