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World Association Of News Publishers Blasts Nigeria For Attack On Elombah

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The Board of the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA) has vehemently condemned the President Muhammadu Buhari-led federal government for the attack on this medium, ElombahNews, otherwise known as Elombah.com, and its publishers, Daniel and Tim Elombah, by the Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Kpotum Idris.

Recall that that operatives of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad [SARS] had, on January 1, 2018, 4a.m., stormed the country home of the Elombahs, scaled the gate using a ladder, and arrested six men from the compound.

The heavily-armed security operatives led them away in handcuffs and eventually took 3 of them down to Abuja, after releasing the other three.

The cybercrime case against the online outlet ElombahNews [Elombah.com] is still ongoing in the Federal High Court in Abuja.

Inspector General of Police Ibrahim Idris

Reacting to the incident, WAN-IFRA, in its Board Press Freedom Resolution with special focus on Nigeria, condemned the act as alarming.

In its meeting held in Estoril, Cascais, Portugal on 6th June 2017, on the occasion of the 70th World News Media Congress, WAN-IFRA called for “renewed global solidarity with the Nigerian press in the wake of attacks and the hardening government stance against independent, free media”.

It regretted the cybercrime case against Elombah.com, and notes with concern how Nigeria’s cybercrime legislation contains vaguely worded offenses and heavy financial and jail term penalties.

The Board was also alarmed that Tim Elombah, the editor of Elombah.com, was arrested and held for 25 days in January 2018 before being charged.

It also regretted that the cybercrime law has been used to target at least five other bloggers since 2015.

WAN-IFRA, therefore, called on Nigerian authorities to “reform the cybercrime law and repeal criminal defamation legislation to ensure journalism is not criminalized”.

The resolution reads in part:

“The Board of the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA), meeting in Estoril, Cascais, Portugal on 6th June 2017, on the occasion of the 70th World News Media Congress, calls for renewed global solidarity with the Nigerian press in the wake of attacks and the hardening government stance against independent, free media.

“The Board of WAN-IFRA denounces a systematic campaign by the Nigerian state to attack and intimidate the press as a means of silencing criticism and marginalising opposition voices.

“The Board notes the pattern of assault against journalists by the Nigerian security services, which has taken place with impunity, and recognizes with increasing alarm the on-going use of cybercrime legislation against the press.”

On the attack on the Elombahs, WAN-IFRA stated:

“The Board of WAN-IFRA regrets to acknowledge the cybercrime case against online outlet Elombah.com, and notes with concern how Nigeria’s cybercrime legislation contains vaguely worded offenses and heavy financial and jail term penalties.

“The Board was alarmed that Timothy Elombah, editor of Elombah.com, was arrested and held for 25 days in January 2018 before being charged.

“The cybercrime law has been used to target at least five other bloggers since 2015.

“Nigerian authorities should reform the cybercrime law and repeal criminal defamation legislation to ensure journalism is not criminalized.

“The Board acknowledges the passing of the Digital Rights and Freedom Bill, which would guarantee expression and information online and limit censorship, through Nigeria’s National Assembly and Senate and urges President Buhari to act swiftly and sign it into law.

“Nigeria should seize this opportunity to act as a leader in protecting journalism online.”

WAN-IFRA Board, therefore, reminded Nigeria of its obligations as a signatory to international conventions regarding freedom of expression.

It also “unequivocally calls on Nigeria’s international partners to do more to pressure President Buhari’s government into guaranteeing an environment that better protects media freedom and the independence of journalists.”

Read the Board Press Freedom Resolution in full HERE.


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