African Media Barometer Report, 2019: Freedom of expression not justiciable in Nigeria

By Chimezie Godfrey

Freedom of expression in Nigeria is not justiciable and can not be guaranteed despite its constitutional provision, according to findings from the 2019 African Media Barometer Report, (AMB).

This was part of the conclusions arrived at by Panelists and presented by Editor-in-Chief, Guardian Newspaper, Mr Martins Oloja during the,”Public lauch of the African Media Barometer 2019 Report,” via a virtual conference on Tuesday.

Oloja said,”The Panelists believe that despite guarantee of the freedom of expression in the constitution, the provision is not justiciable and so freedom of expression cannot be guaranteed, and is still something (that) needs to be pursued.

“Beyond limitations, citizens and journalists in Nigeria are still unable to exercise freedom of expression without fear, no thanks too to culture of intimidation through harassment by public authorities, criminal libel, cyber stalking among others.”

A Human Right Lawyer, Aderonke Ige, in her presentation said that freedom of expression and freedom of the media have not been effectively protected and promoted.

She however, noted that broadcasting regulations in the country has been transparent and independent, adding that the state broadcaster is transformed into a truly public broadcaster. 

Ige mentioned that there were some positive developments during the period in review which include a more stable democracy over the past decades which has opened the civic space and led to proliferation of media and greater participation of citizens in public life.

She disclosed that the quantitative expansion of the broadcasting sector, particularly, community broadcasting as a result of digitization, has resulted to greater opportunities for expansion of the value chain in broadcasting and content diversity, among others.

The Human Rights Lawyer, recommended  that there is need for stronger collaboration, support and partnership between the media and civil society organizations.

She urged media organizations and CSOs particularly in legacy media, to collaborate more closely, while encouraging professional media support associations and media organizations to update, promote, implement and enforce discipline and professionalism in the journalism profession. 

The Resident Representative, Friedrich Ebert Studying (FES), Nigeria, Uli Thum, earlier in his speech said FES has been making effort to support the deepening of participatory and transparent democracy in Africa, especially, the assessment of the media landscape in Nigeria. 

He pointed out that even though most African countries have tried to introduce freedom of expression in their constitutions, the practice leaves much to be desired, (like) the case in Nigeria.

Other discussants at this event include Prof. Umaru Pate,  and a host of participants from civil society organizations and Media organizations.

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