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Is Nigeria One of the Freest Countries for the Press and Media?

Photo Credit: The Guardian Nigeria 2 mins read

The minister of information claimed that Nigeria is one of the freest countries in the world to live in.

Nigeria is not one of the “freest” countries to live in with respect to the press, the media or general welfare. Key metrics as of 2019 place it as the third most dangerous country, with a Corruption Perception Index of 140 among 180 countries. More so, media reports speak to the contrary concerning press freedom. 

Full Text

On Monday, Daily post attributed this statement to the Minister of Information and Culture Alhaji Lai Mohammed… “Nigeria is the freest country in the world.” A similar report was also published by Pulse

News reports say he uttered the statement when he received the Finnish Ambassador to Nigeria- Dr Jyrki Pulkkinen- and the Ambassador of Innovation of the Foreign Affairs Ministry of Finland, Mr Jarmo Sareva. Both men were on an advocacy visit to promote the ideals of the Freedom Online Coalition. 

Verification 

In a Fact-check done by ICIR on this post, having obtained a complete recording of the minister’s speech, stated the minister mentioned safety only concerning the media and the press. 

Also, he did not say Nigeria is the freest country to live in. Rather, he said Nigeria is ONE of the freest countries to live in the world.

“We are not talking about security, we are talking about press freedom. It is a discussion about the government not going out of its way to gag the press. Let the country have a free press; isn’t that the expression we use?”

Mr Lai Mohammed – ICIR excerpt

Press Freedom?

Findings show that the Nigerian civic space has continued to shrink. The 2019 World Press Freedom Index, ranked Nigeria 120 on a list of 180 countries. In the same vein, Premium Times Center for Investigative Journalism’s, Press Attack tracker which monitors attacks on journalists tells a similar tale. 

This tracker reveals that over 100 incidences of journalists attacks in the year 2019 alone; the highest recorded so far. Instances such as the still-incarcerated Nigerian journalist, Aba Jalingo exist. The arrest made last year, August 22nd, involved a report alleging that Cross River governor, Ben Ayade, diverted N500 million belonging to the state.

Sanitize the media

Meanwhile, the minister in his speech referred “sanitising” the media, citing the tragedy in Rwanda. Still, the social media bill introduced in this vein has not only left many with mixed reactions but many question its legitimacy and true intent. However, the minister of information denied the existence of said bill recently. 

Safety in and out of context

Nigeria, in actuality, is neither the safest places to live nor is it one of the freest countries for journalistic endeavours. Most reports, rather speak to the contrary. Instances of insecurity and corruption make the minister’s claim hard to believe. Transparency International’s corruption perception index ranked Nigeria 146 out of 180 counties in the world with a score of 26/100. 

Further, in 2019, the Expat Insider Survey rated Nigeria as the third most dangerous country in the world. This is due to widespread corruption and insecurity…. factors that contribute to the sustained increase of terrorist activities, poverty, religious unrest, insurgency, and kidnappings amongst others. 

Temilade Onilede is a researcher and the Programme Assistant for Dubawa, Nigeria. She holds an undergraduate degree in Performing Arts From the University of Ilorin, Ilorin Kwara State. She is a trained journalist, with good research and writing skills, coupled with her knowledge in Journalism; a personable character and an engaging mind who is well skilled in the field of fact-checking and verification.

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