Category Archives: World Press Freedom Day

Safety of Journalists echoes as UN, EU mark Press Freedom Day in Abuja and Lagos

Group photo

A group photogragh of dignitaries at the Abuja conference.

Safety of journalists in a free, independent and pluralistic media environment has continued to dominate discussions as the United Nations system in Nigeria and the European Delegation to Nigeria and the ECOWAS observed the World Press Freedom Day with a conference in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory and a technical workshop for journalists in Lagos.

Addressing the global theme of this year’s observance, ‘Access to Information and Fundamental Freedoms: This Is Your Right!’, the conference in Abuja and the workshop in Lagos both noted the need for government to protect journalists and combat any form of violence and harassment of media actors in the country.

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At the Lagos workshop: L-R: Officer-in-charge, UNIC Lagos, Oluseyi Soremekun; HoD Mass Communication Dept., University of Lagos, Dr Abigail Ogwezzy-Ndisika; Dean, College of Social and Management Sciences, Caleb University, Lagos, Prof. Nosa Owens-Ibie and Director, Nigerian Press Council, Lagos Office, Mr Patrick Izobo.

In his message at the events organised by United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) Abuja and the United Nations Information Centre (UNIC) Lagos representing the United Nations (UN), in partnership with the EU, the Secretary General of the United Nations, Mr Ban Ki-moon urged all governments and citizens to commit to nurturing and protecting an independent and free media. Mr Ban in his message read by the United Nations Resident Coordinator a.i., Ms Rati Ndhlovu, said further, “I am very concerned about the increasing restrictive environment for media workers in many countries”.

Hightable - a minute silence

Dignitaries at Abuja conference observing a minute of silence for journalists that have lost their lives in the line of duties around the world.

Delivering the keynote address, Head of the EU Delegation to Nigeria and ECOWAS, H.E. Ambassador Michel Arrion reaffirmed the commitment of the EU to promote laws and practices that protect freedom of opinion and expression; media freedom and pluralism and foster an understanding among public authorities of the dangers of unwarranted interference with impartial and critical reporting.

Head EU Delegation

Head of the EU Delegation to Nigeria and ECOWAS, Ambassador Michel Arrion delivers the keynote address

In his opening remarks, the Officer-in-charge of UNIC Lagos, Mr Oluseyi Soremekun, noted that annually, the press freedom day is observed to talk about the fundamental principles to protect the independence of the media and to hour media workers who risk and have lost their lives in the exercise of their profession. He called on public institutions to adopt proactive disclosure of information as a step to increasing public access to information.

unesco Director speaks 2

Director of UNESCO Abuja Regional Director, Mr Benoît Sossou delivers the message of the UNESCO Director General, Ms Irina Bokova

Speaking on ‘Freedom of Information as a Fundamental Freedom and Human Rights’ at the technical workshop in Lagos which was supported by Media Awareness and Information For All Network (MAIN), the Dean, College of Social and Management Sciences, Caleb University, Lagos, Prof. Nosa Owens-Ibie, noted that promotion of a culture of openness is vital to citizen empowerment for value-added and informed electoral choices which would deepen democratic governance.

Oluseyi Soremekun delivers the opening remarks at the Abuja conference.

UNIC Lagos Officer-in-charge,

In her paper on ‘Freedom of Expression and Safety of Journalists in the Digital Age’ the Head of Department of Mass Communication, University of Lagos, Dr Abigail Ogwezzy-Ndisika, called for an improved rapport between the government and the media as lack of communication and mutual suspicion has been responsible for regular frictions between the government and the media in Nigeria.

Prof Abigail and Owens

Dr Abigail Ogwezzy-Ndisika (Left) and Prof Nosa Owen-Ibie at the event in Lagos

Other speakers at the events included the Director of UNESCO Abuja Regional Bureau, Mr Sousou Benoit who read the message of UNESCO Director General, Ms Irina Bokova; the Ambassador of Sweden to Nigeria, Ambassador Svante Kilander who spoke on ‘250 years of Freedom of Information Law’; Executive Secretary, Nigerian Press Council, Mr Nnamdi Njemanze; Media and Arts Editor, The Guardian, Mr Kabir Alabi; Representative of the Honourable Minister of Information and Culture; Representative of the National President of the Nigerian Union of Journalists; among others

Let journalism thrive, UNIC Director tells stakeholders

Resource persons

Resource persons

Lagos, 05 May 2015. The Director of United Nations Information Centre (UNIC) Lagos, Mr Ronald Kayanja, has called on stakeholders to allow journalism to thrive. ‘Journalism’ he continued, ‘could only thrive when stakeholders, including government, civil society and media practitioners redouble efforts to enhance safety of journalists.

Ronald speaks to the press High table and cross section Mr Kayanja who spoke at the World Press Freedom Day observance organized by UNIC Lagos in collaboration with Media Awareness and Information For All Network (MAIN) and the Department of Mass Communication, University of Lagos, noted that the observance was to encourage and develop initiatives in favour  of press freedom, assess the state of press freedom worldwide and remind governments of the need to respect their commitment to press freedom.

Presenting the joint message of Ban Ki-moon, the Secretary General of the United Nations (UN); Irina Bokova, Director-General, United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), and Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights on the occasion of the World Press Freedom Day, the UNIC Lagos Director noted that for peace to be lasting and development to be sustainable, human rights must be respected and everyone must be free to seek, receive and impart knowledge and information on all media, online and offline.Kayanja-Oso-Lekan-Olatunji

Mr Kayanja added that ‘quality journalism enables citizens to make informed decisions about their society’s development. It also works to expose injustice, corruption, and the abuse of power.’

In his overview of the 2015 theme, ‘Let Journalism Thrive! Towards Better Reporting, Gender Equality, & Media Safety in the Digital Age’, the Chairman of Media Awareness and Information For All Network (MAIN) Prof Lai Oso, noted a growing influence of commercialization and concentration of media enterprise ownership, which in a way impacts upon the independence and quality of journalism on all platforms.

Cross-section of participantsHe stated that media ownership and control remain one of the challenges of independent journalism in Nigeria, citing the way some media organisations reported political activities during the just concluded general elections in the country.

 

In his remarks, the Chairman, Centre of Excellence, Department of Mass Communication, University of Lagos, Prof Ralph Akinfeleye reflected on the issues of press freedom and safety of journalists. He enjoined everyone to renew efforts to end impunity and safeguard safety of journalists. ‘Freedom of expression and press freedom’, he continued, ‘are components of good governance and sustainable development.

Other speakers included the Online Editor of ‘The Nation’, Mr Lekan Otufodunrin who made a presentation on ‘Independent Journalism in the Digital Age’; the Acting Head of Department of Mass Communication, University of Lagos, Dr Abigail Ogwezzy (Gender, Media and the Beijing Declaration); Dr Olunifesi Suraj (Towards better digital safety for journalists and their sources) and Dr Fassy Yusuf (FOI Implementation and Challenges).

Freedom of information critical to achieving MDGs – Media expert

“Freedom of expression and information are critical to fighting poverty and achieving the MDGs. The availability and accessibility of information promotes transparency, resulting in better governance and a reduction of inefficiency and corruption.”
This submission was made by Dr Rotimi Williams Olatunji, in his keynote address on the occasion of the World Press Freedom Day 2014 organised by the United Nations Information Centre (UNIC), Lagos in collaboration with Media Awareness and Information For All Network (MAIN) and the United Nations Association of Nigeria (UNAN).

Keynote speaker, Dr Rotimi Williams Olatunji addresses the audience.

Keynote speaker, Dr Rotimi Williams Olatunji addresses the audience.


Speaking further at the event which was attended by 24 media organisations including 10 television stations, Dr Olatunji, an Associate Professor of Mass Communication, noted that free flow of information included strengthening the right to seek and receive information, and was fundamental to the success of post-2015 sustainable development agenda.
In his message on the occasion, the UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, called on all Governments, societies and individuals to actively defend press freedom as critical factors in achieving the Millennium Development Goals and advancing the post-2015 development agenda. ‘Freedom of expression, independent media and universal access to knowledge will fortify our efforts to achieve lasting results for people and the planet,’ he added.
Resource persons at the seminar. L-R: Dr Abigail Ogwezzi-Ndizika; Oluseyi Soremekun; Dr Rotimi Olatunji; Envera Selimovic and Prof Lai Oso

Resource persons at the seminar. L-R: Dr Abigail Ogwezzi-Ndizika; Oluseyi Soremekun; Dr Rotimi Olatunji; Envera Selimovic and Prof Lai Oso


Declaring the ceremony open, the Lagos State Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr Lateef Ibirogba, underscored the critical role of the press in promoting peace and development. The Commissioner who was represented by the Assistant Director and Head of Strategy, Lagos State Ministry of Information, Mrs Toro Oladapo, beseeched the press to place patriotism and professionalism at the heart of their journalistic practice.
The Senior Public Information Officer of the Centre, Envera Selimovic, in her welcome remarks, urged the Nigerian press to remain unwavering in their commitment to ethical journalism and continued support to the UN in its efforts to improving the wellbeing of the people in Nigeria and around the world.
As part of activities marking the day, the Centre organised a seminar titled, ‘Media Freedom, Peace and Development in Nigeria’ featuring three presentations by Communication and gender experts.
A group photograph of resource persons and some participants

A group photograph of resource persons and some participants


In his presentation on ‘Mediatising Conflict in Nigeria – A reflection’, the National Information Officer of UNIC, Oluseyi Soremekun, called on media organisations to desist from sensationalising conflict-related stories and eschew the tendency to celebrate or commercialize negative stories. ‘Sensationalising conflict-related stories,’ according to him, ‘could aggravate the crises rather than help in mitigating the crises.’ ‘The press should strive to be objective, responsible and constructive in its reportage,’ he added.
Other experts that made interventions at the seminar included Dr Abigail Ogwezzy-Ndizika of the University of Lagos; Professor Lai Oso, Dean School of Communications, Lagos State University and Chairman, Media Awareness and Information For All Network (MAIN); Dr Rotimi W. Olatunji of the Lagos State University and Mr Kabiru Alabi, Media/Arts Editor, The Guardian’ newspapers.

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UNIC Lagos Officer-in-Charge removing cobwebs in the SOS Children's Village home
The United Nations Information Center Lagos in collaboration with United Nations of Youths Network Nigeria (UNOY), Global Alert for Defense of Youth and the less Privileged (GADYLP) and Selfworth Organization for Women Development (SOWD) organized an event to mark Nelson Mandela International Day 2013 and Nelson Mandela’s 95th birthday with the Theme “Inspire Change, Take action” on 18 July.
The event took place at SOS Children’s Village, Isolo in which about fifty participants from UNIC Lagos and the collaborating NGOs spent 67 minutes representing 67 years that Nelson Mandela devoted to humanity, cleaning the homes of the children in the ‘’village’’.
The programme started in the hall of SOS Children’s village where the pupils, teachers, parents, UNIC Lagos staff and the collaborating NGOs totaling about a hundred and fifty participated in the event. Amongst the special guest of honour were The Director of The SOS Children’s Village – Mr. B. A. Buraimoh; the Executive Chairman of Amuwo Odofin Local Government Area who was represented by his Chief of Staff – Hon. Sultan Facfoyi; The Chairman of UNOY and GADYLP – Prince Goodluck Obi and President of SOWD.
The theme of the day was introduced to the audience (with the pupils in mind) in an interactive manner by the President of UNOY and GADYLP – Prince Goodluck Obi and Ms. Nnena of SOWD. Prince Goodluck Obi gave a brief history of Nelson Mandela and what he stood for. The Special guests were given the opportunity to say a sentence describing Nelson Mandela.
The Secretary-General’s Message was then read to the audience by the Officer–in-Charge of the United Nations Information Centre – Ms. Olajumoke Araba.
The slide show of Nelson Mandela’s pictures was screened and also the film about Nelson Mandela – Invictus.
Whilst the film was being screened to the audience, about fifty participants comprising UNIC Lagos staff and the collaborating NGOs divided into four groups, went to clean and assist with the chores for 67 minutes in the homes of the SOS children. They swept and cleaned the floors, cleaned the windows washed the toilets, arranged clothes properly in the wardrobes, removed cobwebs and tidied the surroundings. The babies at home were also taken care of.
Quotes from some of the participants:
“I feel a new sense of purpose towards the clean-up campaign I have been assigned. I am motivated to do more than just 67 minutes; I want to create a cleanup campaign that I would be passionate about the children welfare”
“I loved to be part of any organization that create huge impact on mankind. I am ready to get back to my community so as to investigate how I can better serve children that are hopeless.”
The Director of the SOS Children’s Village was pleased about the action taken to inspire change.