A Gruelling Year for The Media #EventsoftheYear2018

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As the year ends, the memory of the shocking murder and intimidation of some journalists across the globe will echoe in the new year as the media struggle to cope with dwindling revenue

By Anayo Ezugwu

The year 2018 was a mixed grill for the media in Nigeria and the world at large.  For some media houses, it was a year of unlawful detention, harassment and murder for some journalists by governments and security agencies. Also, the comatose economy in Nigeria worsens the revenue flow to some media organisations resulting in arrears of salaries being owed journalists.  But some online publications such as Realnews Magazine and News Express managed to wade through the bad economy to mark their six years anniversary in November.

Realnews Magazine and Publications Limited, publishers of Realnews, pioneer investigative online magazine in Nigeria, marked the day on November 15, with an impressive lecture and investiture into the Realnews Hall of Fame which was attended by professionals from different walk of life. The lecture entitled: “Political Transition and Africa’s Economic development,” was delivered by Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, chairman, Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC.

The lecture had Haroun Adamu, former chairman, Petroleum Trust Fund, PTF, as chairman while Charles Okeke dean, school of education, behavioural and social sciences and professor of economics, The College of Southern Nevada, Nevada System of Higher Education, Charleston Campus, Las Vegas, USA; Prof. Adebayo Olukoshi, director, Africa and West Asia Regional Programme and Liaison Office to African Union, Addis Ababa Ethiopia and Simbi Wabote, executive secretary, Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board, were discussants.

Realnews’ choice of topic in 2018, according to Maureen Chigbo, publisher and editor, Realnews, was informed by contemporary political, economic, security, socio-cultural challenges facing Africa, albeit Nigeria regarded as the ‘Giant of Africa’ as it prepares for the 2019 polls where Nigerians are expected to elect leaders they hope will move the country to the next level.

Those inducted into the prestigious Realnews Hall of Fame, exclusively reserved for only guest speakers, discussants, Realnews book reviewers and chairpersons at the Anniversary Lecture Series are Adamu, Yakubu, Okeke, Olukoshi, Wabote, Paul Ejime, veteran journalist and international media and communications consultant and Eze Emecheta, managing director, Zevis Group.

Despite Realnews celebration, which  was widely covered by the media,  some professionals in the industry in Nigeria and across the world had it rough in the hands of government and security agencies.

On February 28, the Department of State Security, DSS, arrested Tony Ezimakor, Abuja Bureau Chief of the Independent Newspaper, for publishing a story on the alleged payment of $2 million to the Boko Haram terrorists for the release of some of the abducted Chibok school girls. The DSS demanded that Ezimakor must disclose his sources as a precondition for his freedom after detaining him in Abuja over a story he wrote which dwelt on how ransom payments have become a lucrative source of extra income for Nigerian and Swiss intelligence officers who participated in the negotiations for Boko Haram hostages.

On August 14, Nigerian police through the Special Anti-Robbery Squad, SARS, arrested and detained Samuel Ogundipe, Premium Times reporter, for writing a story based on a letter written by Ibrahim Idris, Inspector General of Police, to Acting President Yemi Osinbajo on the siege to the National Assembly by security officials.

Apart from Ogundipe, Musikilu Mojeed, editor-in-chief of the newspaper and Azeezat Adedigba, its education correspondent, were also briefly detained and manhandled by the police at the SARS headquarters in Abuja. Adedigba was later released after about three hours of detention. Mojeed and Ogundipe were driven from the SARS headquarters in Abuja, to the IGP Monitoring Unit at Force Headquarters where Ogundipe was made to write a statement.

On October 21, Temitope Mustapha, Voice of Nigeria, reporter, was attacked in Kaduna, while in Kano State for a two-day Media Dialogue on Equity for the Girl Child Education by miscreants. Likewise, Joy Odor, a reporter with Nagarta Radio, Kaduna, was also attacked on October 21 after the state government imposed 24-hour curfew in the state.

She said: “I was stabbed by hoodlums who attacked commuters in the commercial bus transporting us from Kawo Motor Park to my residence in Mando. The hoodlums stabbed me on my wrist and carted away my mobile phone. I managed to escape and fled to the nearby 1 Division Nigerian Army Head Quarters.”

On August 15, the DSS released Jones Abiri, a Bayelsa-based journalist and publisher of the Weekly Source Magazine, after two years in detention without being charged to court. The journalist was released after he was said to have met his bail conditions.

Abiri was arrested on July 21, 2016, at his office in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State, over an alleged link to armed militancy in the Niger Delta region, an allegation which he denied. He was, however, charged to court on July 27, 2018 after an outcry by the internationl media and civil society organisation.

On the foreign scene, on October 2, Jamal Khashoggi, a journalist from Saudi Arabia, was killed inside the country’s consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, after a fight broke out. Khashoggi, 59, went missing during a visit to get papers for his marriage and intense pressure had been growing on Saudi Arabia to explain his disappearance. Saudi Arabia’s public prosecutor was quoted on state television as saying that a fight broke out between Khashoggi and people who met him in the consulate, leading to his death.

The claim contradicts the country’s initial claim that the journalist, who was critical of the kingdom’s rulers, had left the consulate alive. An official source claimed that discussions between Khashoggi and others at the consulate did not go as required and developed in a negative way, leading to a fight and a quarrel. It added that the brawl which was aggravated led to his death and their attempt to conceal and cover up what happened.

Also on November 7, Jim Acosta, CNN correspondent was banned from the White House following a heated row with President Donald Trump, who called him a rude, terrible person during a press conference. Acosta, CNN’s chief White House correspondent, said he was informed by Secret Service Officers that he could not enter for his scheduled 8pm broadcast.

Officials later confirmed that his credentials had been revoked. Acosta had asked the president about his reference to migrants travelling towards America as an invasion.

– Jan. 1, 2019 @ 00:10 GMT |

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