May 30, 2024

Cybercrime Act:  Rights groups condemn incessant arrest of journalists

Hong Kong: unwelcoming place for international media?

By Luminous Jannamike

Some human rights groups yesterday condemned the federal government’s constant harassment’s nd arrest of journalists under the Cybercrime Act.

Reacting to the latest arrest of the International Centre for Investigative Reporting, ICIR, journalists, who have since Tuesday night been released, and others arrested before now, Auwal Musa Rafsanjani, the Head of Transparency International in Nigeria, accused the government of stifling press freedom and concealing corruption by attacking journalists.

He condemned the administration’s actions as a blatant attempt to muzzle the media and hide the truth from the public.

Rafsanjani expressed shock and surprise at the Tinubu administration’s actions, which he described as a new form of attack on the civic space.

He emphasized that power was transient, adding that those in authority today might face a similar tyrannical regime in the future.

He said:  “It is an unwelcome development to see that freedom of expression and press freedom are being stifled under the administration of Bola Tinubu. The issue is straightforward: if there is nothing to hide or wrongdoing, why prevent journalists from carrying out their work legitimately and constitutionally?

”This suppression is indicative of deep-seated corruption and bad governance, which the administration seems keen to conceal by hindering journalistic activities and advocacy for necessary reforms.

“It is both shocking and surprising that under Tinubu, we are witnessing a new form of attack on the civic space. It is crucial for the administration to remember that power is transient and nothing is permanent.

”One day, they will leave power and may face another tyrannical regime that will deal with them decisively. If there is nothing to hide, why attack the civic space? This is a democracy, and we are practicing constitutional governance.

”If there are issues with a journalists, one must ask if the journalists have acted outside the scope of their work. Who determines wrongdoing?  Is it the administration or the courts? There is no justification for attacking the civic space, as democracy is fundamentally about rights and freedoms.

“It is deeply concerning to see such an attack on freedoms; this is tyrannical and fascist behavior. We, therefore, call for the release of the ICIR journalists and demand an immediate cessation of attacks on the civic space.”

Speaking in the same vein, convener of Concerned Nigerians, Deji Adeyanju, condemned the harassment of journalists in Nigeria, warning that it could damage the country’s human rights index and international reputation.

Adeyanju said journalists had the right to do their job without fear of harassment or intimidation, citing the law that protects them from revealing their sources.