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Lawyers’ group launches pro bono media defence project

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Respite may have come the way of bloggers, journalists and media houses in Nigeria as the Digital Rights Lawyers Initiative, DRLI, a civil society of lawyers litigating digital rights, has launched a project to defend journalists, bloggers and media organisations, who may run into legal issues in the discharge of their duties.

The year-long project known as Digital Rights Advancement Project, DRAP, is funded by the UK-based organisation, Media Defence.

Media Defence has in the last 10 years consistently supported media freedom around the world, including Africa through technical support for media freedom lawyers and litigation funding.

The project seeks to provide courtroom defence for endangered media professionals and media organisations in Nigeria.

Speaking on this project, the co-founder of the organisation, Olumide Babalola expressed excitement on the relief the project will bring to the tensed media landscape in Nigeria.

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Babalola said, “This project will bring relief to journalists in Nigeria and we are quite optimistic of positive results this project will bring. Freedom of expression and the press is the bedrock of democracy and a threat to it is a threat to our very existence as a people and our nation may not survive it if the current threats continue unabated.

“Journalists should be able to carry out their duties as important stakeholders in our democracy without fear of harm or attack.”

He noted that in days ahead, DRLI will reach out to journalists, media houses and their associations on the organisation’s readiness to provide support for endangered journalists and media houses in Nigeria. According to him, DRLI with its nationwide network of digital rights lawyers was poised to defend journalists in courts in any part of Nigeria.

Its Co-Founder and Director of Operations, Solomon Okedara noted that the project was timely.

He said, “For us at DRLI, we are excited with this partnership with Media Defence as it will enable us do more than we are currently doing to protect freedom of speech and the press. We are confident that while there is much  to do with limited resources, we strongly believe that encouraging results from this current project will attract more funders as strategic stakeholders in the nation’s democracy project.”

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