The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has condemned today the continued harassment and intimidation of the reporters of the Plateau Radio and Television Corporation (PRTVC) by soldiers in Jos, Plateau State, Nigeria. Three reporters of the media house were molested by soldiers in Joson Thursday, January 21, 2010, while on Sunday, January 24 PRTVC reporters were again repeatedly manhandled by soldiers in the exercise of their duties.
“The deliberate harassment and intimidation of journalists in relation to their work is a flagrant violation of their fundamental right to work and freedom of expression” said Gabriel Baglo, Director of the IFJ Africa Office. “Such harassment and intimidation can only be seen as an attempt to stop journalists from reporting the truth by those who have conspired to kill the truth”.
According to a press release issued by the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ) “Three reporters of the media house were molested by soldiers in Jos and were told that soldiers were not happy with PRTVC and promised to “waste” them if they see them on the road again”. This according to the press release “was an apparent threat to kill”.
The National Secretary of the NUJ, Shu’aibu Usman Leman, said in a statement issued in Abuja on Tuesday, February 2, that the PRTVC Management had informed the NUJ that its staff members were again badly manhandled by soldiers on Sunday, January 24. The Management of PRTVC had issueda letter of complaint to the General Officer Commanding, 3rd Armored Division in Jos, Major General Saleh Maina and copied the Police Commissioner in Plateau State, complaining of harassment of its staff by soldiers. However, nothing was done about this. Leman warned “the security apparatus, particularly the police to tread cautiously because harassment and intimidation of journalists under any guise will create more problems without solving any”.
In a related development, the General Manager of PRTVC, Pastor Yiljap Abraham, has been invited to appear before the Force Criminal Investigation Department (CID), “D” Department, Area 10, Garki Abuja, on Tuesday, January 2, 2010, in connection with the recent Jos crises. “The GM was queried over certain news broadcasts by his station about the conduct of members of the armed forces and the Police and the statement credited to the former Commissioner of Police in the state on the Jos crises that was carried by many other media organisations in the country. Although he was not detained, he was asked to return at a later date with a statement”.
The IFJ calls on the Nigerian Authorities to be more tolerant in dealing with the media and to guarantee the safety of journalists in order for them to do their work without any fear of being harassed. The media in Nigeria have the potential in contributing effectively in strengthening the democratic principles that the country so much cherished. This can only be a reality if the Nigerian Government creates the enabling environment for the media to flourish.
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The IFJ represents over 600,000 journalists in 125 countries worldwide