Nigeria has dropped one place to 120th in the latest World Press Freedom Index released by the international media watchdog, Reporters Without Borders.
In its analysis of the freedom of journalism in Sub-Saharan Africa, RSF notes that “hatred towards journalists, attacks on investigative reporters, censorship (especially online and on social networks), and economic and judicial harassment all undermined independent reporting and quality journalism.”
While Nigeria dropped in the rankings, Ethiopia, under Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, had the biggest increase leaping 40 places to 110 after all of its detained journalists were freed.
But under President Muhammadu Buhari, Nigeria, according to RSF, has a climate of permanent violence. Reporters Without Borders said covering stories involving politics, terrorism or financial embezzlement by the politicians and influential people in Nigeria is problematic.
A Premium Times Journalist, Samuel Ogundipe, was detained in 2018 by the government for refusing to disclose his source for a story that involved the then Inspector General of Police Ibrahim Idris.
In January 2019, the Nigerian Military invaded two regional offices of Daily Trust, a media house, over a report it ran on its daily.
Jones Abiri, a journalist and publisher, was also arrested again by the Department of State Security after his two-year stint in DSS custody.
“Journalists are often threatened, subjected to physical violence or denied access to information by government officials, police and sometimes the public itself,” RSF said about press freedom in Nigeria.
Alongside, the detention and intimidation of journalist, another major issue was the “unprecedented level of disinformation – especially on social networks – which was spread by officials within the two main parties” during the campaign for the February 2019 elections.
“The defence of quality journalism and the protection of journalists need to be priorities during Buhari’s second term,” RSF notes.
Norway tops the global ranking for press freedom while Turkmenistan is the placed bottom on the World Press Freedom Index.
The World Press Freedom Index evaluates the level of media freedom using markers like pluralism, media independence, transparency, the legal framework and the safety of journalists in 180 countries. It is not an indicator of the quality of journalism in each country.