CRITIQUE THE CONSTITUTIONAL PROVISION FOR PRESS FREEDOM IN NIGERIAN 1999 CONSTITUTION Introduction
May 3 of every year is World Press Freedom Day. The day represents an opportunity to commemorate the fundamental principles of press freedom around the globe and to pay solemn tribute to journalists who have lost their lives in the line of duty. Thomas Jefferson, the third President of the United States (1801-1809), once said he would rather have newspapers without government than government without newspapers. In America they say freedom of the press is democracy. With more than 100 national, local, and state-owned newspapers and publications; print media in Nigeria is one of the most vibrant in all of Africa. While on a superficial level, it appears the media in Nigeria enjoy a considerable freedom, in reality however, independent journalism is not as common as it may appear. Despite the transition from military to civilian rule in 1999, clampdown, assault, beatings, unfair arrests and police raids of media house has continued. Between June 2002 and September 2003 alone Media Rights Agenda (MRA), a Lagos based nongovernmental organization which promotes press freedom and freedom of expression, recorded more than fifty cases of reported abuses against journalists and other violations of freedom of expression. The media watchdog Reporters Without Borders in 2010 listed Nigeria Police Force as the leading abuser of journalists’ rights. On Saturday, April 24, 2010, Edo-Ugbagwu, a judicial correspondent of The Nation newspapers was murdered in Lagos. Also, Godwin Agbroko and Abayomi Ogundeji of Thisday newsapeprs, Omololu Falabi and Bayo Ohu of The Guardian were all brutally killed in Lagos by unknown gun men recently. All these killings and the initial reluctance of the national assembly and the president to pass the Freedom of Information Bill have further raised the question of press freedom once more in Nigerian democracy. The assault on the press is a...
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