Journalist at risk of arrest
After his arrest in August 2018 and following pressure mounted on the police authorities by Amnesty International (through an Urgent Action calling for his release), Samuel Ogundipe continues to suffer several adjournments due to the absence of the prosecution in court.
In Nigeria, civic space continues to shrink as Nigerian authorities increasingly clampdown on the rights to freedom of expression and media freedom. Often dissenting views expressed by media practitioners are criminalised, particularly when they revolve around sensitive issues. Also, the stifling of the right to freedom of expression occurs in circumstances where journalists are pressured to disclose their sources of information particularly when they publish stories that focus on national security, corruption, elections and armed conflict.
The failure of Nigerian authorities to investigate cases of indiscriminate arrest, detention and prosecution of journalists, media practitioners, ensure that suspected perpetrators are held to account for these human rights violations. In 2019, Amnesty International documented stories of journalists who suffered arbitrary arrest and detention, including Samuel Ogundipe’s case. Some of the journalists told Amnesty International that they were tortured and pressured to write confessional statements, which were used to prosecute them in court.
While many of them faced bogus charges such as ‘defamation’, ‘terrorism’ and ‘cyberstalking’, others had charges such as ‘kidnapping’, criminal trespass and theft of state documents brought against them. Worse still, many of the journalists were prosecuted under the Cybercrime Act and Terrorism (Prevention) (Amendment) Act 2013, alongside other laws. The Terrorism (Prevention) (Amendment) Act 2013 prescribe the death penalty for those found guilty, thus making journalism a dangerous occupation. In cases where journalists and media practitioners sought legal redress for violations suffered, the authorities have failed to obey court judgements, while halting access to justice and the right to an effective remedy.