The Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, made some claims during a recent Federal Executive Council meeting where the FEC announced the approval of an Action Plan 2022 to 2026 to promote and protect human rights in Nigeria.
Malami asserted that Nigeria is the only African country in 2022 that fully complied with the protection of journalists based on a report by Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ).
He also claimed that “not a single incidence of death of a journalist has been recorded in Nigeria arising from infractions, relating thereto.”
How accurate are the minister’s claims?
To verify Malami’s claims, our correspondent visited the CPJ website and found out that the report the minister quoted shows that at least 24 journalists have been killed in the country since 1992 with 12 confirmed to have been killed while doing their job.
Also, the Press Attack Track website, which tracks and documents attacks on journalists, has documented over 500 reports from Nigeria since 1985, accounting for 52 journalists as victims of attacks in 2022 with state actors responsible for most of the attacks.
However, in the first quarter of 2023 preliminary findings by Press Track Attack shows at least 45 journalists were attacked physically accounting for most cases recorded.
A report by the Media Foundation for West Africa in 2021 stated that eight journalists have been killed under the Buhari-led administration but only four were confirmed to have died in the discharge of their duty.
Speaking on the claim Jonathan Rozen, a senior researcher with the CPJ, reiterated that the Malami’s claims are incorrect.
He noted that CPJ research has for decades documented attacks on journalists, the arrest, and prosecution of journalists, and the maintenance of laws that criminalise journalism in surveillance of the press.
He further stated that in 2020, “Malami mischaracterized the fact that Nigeria was not included in the
CPJ’s impunity index as an achievement by Nigerian authorities. However, Nigeria was no longer included in the 2020 index because it tracked only killings from the previous 10 years, and therefore no longer included a killing from 2009. Nigerian authorities have not achieved full accountability for any journalist deaths that CPJ has documented.”
Based on verifiable data and Rozen’s comment, Daily Trust can confirm that the claims made by Malami are inaccurate and misleading.