By: Joy Odor/Abuja
The United Nation Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization-UNESCO Observatory has said about ninety-nine journalists was killed in 2018 while a total of one-thousand-three-and-seven killed between 1994 and 2018.
The Director General of UNESCO, Madam Andre Azule gave the figure at the global celebration of this year World Press Freedom Day with the Theme “Media for Democracy: Journalism and Elections in Times of Disinformation” in Abuja in collaboration with the Nigerian Union of Journalist-NUJ, Abuja Council.
Represented by the Regional Director, Mr. Ydo Yao, Madam Azule noted with dismay that Impunity for crimes committed against journalists is a threat that affects all the societies and the threat requires all to be constantly vigilant.
According to her, Journalists must act together to protect the freedom of expression and safety of journalists, saying the existence of free, pluralistic and independent media is a prerequisite for the proper functioning of democracies.
She maintained that Independent journalism provides an opportunity to present facts to citizens and to form an opinion, press freedom guarantees transparent societies where everyone can access information and Independent journalism analyses the world and makes it accessible to all, working for the diversity of opinion.
“While these periods are key moments of political liveliness, they also lend themselves to all the dangers of instrumentalization, combined with practices such as obstruction, harassment, unlawful arrest and even murder, which prevent journalists from doing their work freely.
“I would first like to congratulate all the journalists that are here today for standing for the truth. You cannot be silent as you are the voice of the masses. We would continue to support you in all areas of your profession.
“Although tomorrow is the D-Day of the event, we have however, decided to mark ours today to allow some of us who want to travel for the weekend to do so tomorrow without hindrance. On this note, permit me to deliver the Director General message:
“Press freedom is the cornerstone of democratic societies. All States, all nations, are strengthened by information, debate and the exchange of opinions” She stressed.
Madam Azule therefore invites Member States, civil society organizations and professional organizations, to celebrate press freedom and the right of access to information, which are essential to any democratic society.
In his speech, The National President of the Nigerian Union of Journalists, Comrade Christopher Isiguzu lamented that Journalists and media experts must be given utmost safety while they are delivering their duty, complete freedom of speech, pointing out that press freedom is a very serious issue and must given due important.
“The World Press Freedom is celebrated worldwide very May 3rd and it present an opportunity to abide fundamental principles of press freedom and to paid tribute to journalists who have lost their lives in the line of duty.
“The United Nations General Assembly declared May 3rd to be World Press Freedom Day to raise awareness on the important of the press and remind government of their duty to respect and uphold the right of freedom of expression enshrined under the article 19 of 1948 Universal Declaration Human Right making the anniversary of the declaration and a statement of free press principle put together by African Newspaper Journalists in 1991.
“Media as you know plays a crucial role in the development of any country; common people are educated about what is good about the society and about the issues and events which affects their lives.
“Journalists and media experts must be given utmost safety why they are delivering their duty and also complete freedom of speech. Press freedom is a very serious issue and must given due important” He Laments.
Declaring the occasion open, the Minister of Information Alhaji Lai Muhammad said in Nigerians, there is raise in violence and harassment against journalists.
Represented by Mr. Kehinde Adewale, the Minister called on all Nigerians to started to defend the right of journalists because the freedom of the press is essential in building better Nigeria, stressing that according to UNSECO, 100 journalists were killed in 2018 while over 100 jailed, saying when journalists and media workers are not free, the society will not be safe.
“World Press Freedom it is a medium to create a platform for professional colleague to discuses some tropical issues as its affects journalism, freedom of expression as well as covering events and activities to create awareness, sensitization and mobilizing people to know what is happen in their environment.
“Without journalism, information dissemination, there is no country and development hampered. This is essences of having press freedom to carry out true and impartial information to the targeted audience and it is imperative that facts not falsehood should guard the citizens as they choose their leaders.
“In Nigerians today and the world, there is raise in violence and harassment against journalists and according to UNSECO, almost 100 journalists were killed 2018 while over 100 were jailed. When journalists and media workers are not free how can the society be safe.
“We thank God for the present administration is positive to the promotion of freedom of expression which is why most of the elections and other activities recently been conducted are being across media institute and this is why we can follow it logically and argue on issues that are of importance because of the information given.
“I called on all Nigerians to started to defend the right of journalists because the freedom of the press is essential in building better Nigeria” The Minister noted.