Nigeria has been ranked 120 out of 180 countries in the 2021 World Press Freedom Index compiled by Reporters Without Borders (RSF). Nigeria ranks with countries like Afghanistan, Jordan, Zimbabwe, Palestine, Qatar and South Sudan. An analysis by the RSF said the index data reflected a “dramatic deterioration in people’s access to information and an increase in obstacles to news coverage”.
Nigeria falls under the countries classified as having “very bad”, “bad” or “problematic” environments for press freedom”.
Nigerian journalists have in also faced some of the worst obstacles and attacks in reporting stories. The latest attack was on Frederick Olatunde Odimayo, a freelance reporter who was beaten to unconsciousness in Kogi State for reporting on drug trafficking.
Pelumi Onifade, another journalist who was covering the EndSARS protests in October 2020, was killed in the course of duty. His corpse is still held by the Lagos State government. Onifade was the journalist who recorded the viral video of Olusegun Abiodun Bolarinwa who shot into a crowd of protesters.
According to Reporters Without Borders, while Nigeria has several news organisations, it noted that “covering stories involving politics, terrorism, financial embezzlement by the powerful or conflicts between communities is very problematic”.
The rise in attacks against journalists in Nigeria also led to a reported attack on Peoples Gazette, a digital platform which Nigerian authorities attempted to censor. Qurium, a foundation based in Sweden that specializes in digital security and defending investigative journalists, conducted a full technical analysis. RSF reported that Nigeria’s four main mobile internet operators, MTN, Glo, Airtel and 9Mobile were using different methods to block access to the website.
“This year’s Index, which evaluates the press freedom situation in 180 countries and territories annually, shows that journalism, which is arguably the best vaccine against the virus of disinformation, is totally blocked or seriously impeded in 73 countries and constrained in 59 others, which together represent 73% of the countries evaluated”.