By Angela Atabo
Abuja – Fifteen Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) on Friday in Abuja called on security agencies to protect journalists and commentators from attacks by politicians.
The NGOs, in a statement said that recent development in Nigeria had cast the relationship between government and journalists as well as public commentators “in a disturbing veil of growing anxiety and tension’’.
They said that no fewer than five serving governors had thrown journalists and public commentators into detention in the past months over comments and reports regarding public policies initiated by their governments.
“Weeks ago, Ahmad Salkida, an independent journalist whose consistency in reporting objectively on human crisis situation in the North-East raised an alarm that his life was under renewed threat.
“This followed a report he published on the release of 82 Chibok girls.
“As a matter of fact, the Nigerian Army had on Aug. 14, 2016, declared Salkida a wanted man without justification.
“Having willingly submitted himself for interrogation, Salkida was released without any charge or indictment by the military authorities.
“The same military authorities found nothing professionally unbecoming to use against him, but failed to publicly admit it,’’ they said.
They, however, added that threat to the reporter’s life, attempts to block him from professionally seeking a livelihood, attempts to profile him and intimidate him had continued.
“The recent attempt has had to involve using an obviously sponsored shadowy group to place spurious charges in court against him.
“We cannot fail to notice and indeed hasten to draw a parallel between Salkida’s present cross and the bullying and the obviously sponsored attempts at intimidation of Amnesty International, Nigeria recently,’’ the group stated.
They said that government agencies tagged Amnesty International as undermining the government’s sovereignty and that the agency was working with the violent terror group, Boko Haram.
They, therefore, called on the Federal Government to investigate the activities of some organisations and individuals online and offline, threatening Salkida and parading themselves as defenders of the government.
“We also urged all appropriate security agencies to guarantee the safety of journalists and public commentators all over Nigeria and to particularly guarantee Salkida’s continued professional practice without let or hinder.’’
The NGOs are Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC), Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD), Say No Campaign Nigeria, Protest to Power Movement and Civil Liberties Organisation (CLO).
They also include Centre for Environmental Education and International Press Centre.