The Federal Government says it is considering a request by the Media Rights Agenda (MRA) to set up a specialized team of prosecutors dedicated to the investigation and prosecution of perpetrators of crimes against journalists and other media workers.
MRA, which requested for the special team, revealed that the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN), had assured it that the proposal was being processed.
In a letter addressed to MRA’s Executive Director, Mr. Edetaen Ojo, the Special Assistant to President Muhammadu Buhari on Media and Public Relations, Dr. Umar Jibrilu Gwandu, said: “Your letter requesting the Federal Government of Nigeria to establish a specialized team of prosecutors to ensure effective investigation and prosecution of crimes against journalists and other media workers through the office of the Honorable Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice has been received and is being processed.”
Gwandu, who wrote on behalf of the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami (SAN), said it was gratifying that “professional bodies, pundits, youth and non-partisan organizations are objectively and dispassionately taking into account of the outstanding professional acumen and wealth of experience brought to bear in the transformation of the Federal Ministry of Justice”.
Ojo had written to the federal government on behalf of MRA on October 26, 2021, ahead of the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists (IDEI) on November 2, calling on the government to establish the team of specialized prosecutors.
According to him, this will position Nigeria to “fulfil its international treaty obligations under a number of regional and international instruments, most notably Principle 20 of the Declaration of Principles on Freedom of Expression and Access to Information in Africa, adopted in November 2019 by the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights pursuant to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, to which Nigeria is a State Party.”
The organization added that the situation was reflecting negatively on the government, and signals a wrong message to perpetrators that they can attack or even kill journalists and there will be no adverse consequences for the perpetrators.
It noted that as a regional power and leader, it was critical for Nigeria to demonstrate moral leadership by living up to the commitments it had made, particularly in the African context, by respecting and abiding by such regional standards and instruments.