by Kelvin Adegbenga
“There are no journalistic ethics that transcend the value of human life. There are none. In a situation where you can save a human life, you must. There isn’t any conflict in my mind” – Sebastian Junger
My attention has been drawn to the press release by Amnesty International dated Wednesday 28 September 2016 tagged “Crackdown On Journalists And Assault On Protests Shrinking Civic Space”.
I would have ignored the press release because to me, I now see Amnesty International as an arm of the opposition to the Change Agenda in Nigeria.
Amnesty International claimed that security forces are detaining Journalists and bloggers; disrupting peaceful protests to crush dissent and suffocate freedom of expression. I disagree with Amnesty International on these allegations.
In objective Journalism, stories must be balanced in the sense of attempting to present all sides of a story. Fairness means that a journalist should strive for accuracy and truth in reporting, and not slant a story so a reader draws the reporter’s desired conclusion.
Has Amnesty International found it fit to know the reasons why some Journalists and Bloggers are detained? Are fairness and balance achieved only when all of the disparate pieces of a breaking news story are consolidated and organized into a coherent whole? What of the damage done in the interim?
I strongly differ with the latest Amnesty International press release that Nigerian government appears determined to crush dissent and suffocate freedom of expression.
The relevant authorities have always ensured that the rights of Nigerians to freedom of peaceful assembly and freedom of expression, as guaranteed by international human rights law and the Nigerian Constitution is non-negotiable but any group or body that want to embark on gathering must inform the relevant authorities to avoid touts taking over such gathering.
Why does Amnesty International always see violent assault on the side of the security forces and close her eyes on the side of the protesters? Are the security forces not human beings? Are their Rights not guaranteed by international human rights law and the Nigerian constitution?
Let me begin with the protest by members of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN) in Abuja on 22 September, 2016. Did the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN) notify the security forces of their protest? Did Amnesty International know that the same group protests in Kaduna State resulted in loss of lives and properties?
For the information of Amnesty International, Sheikh Ibrahim Al-Zakzaky, is in custody of the security forces for the safety of his life and that of his immediate family. The issue that Sheikh Ibrahim Al-Zakzaky has been in detention without trial since December 2015 is groundless.
The Bring Back Our Girls Movement have been embarking on peaceful protest from that past administration but the march to Aso Rock Presidential Villa on 6th September, 2016 to demand that the government do more to secure the release of Chibok schoolgirls abducted by Boko Haram over two years ago became violent because the group disrupted movement of those going to their offices especially civil servants working at the Federal Secretariat which is adjacent to the President Villa. I, as much as I support peaceful protest, I am against it when it disturb innocent people going to their places of work.
On the issue of “of Biafran independence”, is Amnesty International telling us indirectly that they are in support of Nigeria break up despite out peaceful co-existence? The scores of supporters of Biafran independence who are in detention broke the law of peaceful protest and they are facing the Law already. My advice to the Amnesty International is to take their legal representation at the Law Court, if they are so concerned about them.
Fortunately for Amnesty International, since they have documented cases of arrest, enforced disappearance and killing of supporters and members of various pro-Biafran groups in the region, so they can go ahead to sue the Government for violations of their Rights as enshrined in the 1999 Nigeria Constitution.
Amnesty said that publisher Emenike Iroegbu was arrested in the presence of his family over alleged defamation. Did Emenike Iroegbu defamed or not? I want the Amnesty International to do her research on that.
Did Abubakar Usman, a prominent blogger, contravene the Cyber Crimes Act or not? I expected Abubakar Usman or the Amnesty International to have sued the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) but not of such as come up.
The Social Media does not give room to false accusation. That is why Accounts are blocked when you violate the Regulations of such media. So detention of Jamil Mabai, accused of posting comments on Facebook and Twitter critical of the Katsina State Government was right because what he posted can cause anarchy beyond his own control in Katsina State.
On Ahmed Salkida, a Nigerian journalist based in the United Arab Emirates, thank God he came down to Nigeria to meet the security forces that declared him wanted and he quoted to have been treated nicely by the Military. Ahmed Salkida is a freeman today as I write this.
I want Makmid Kamara and the Amnesty International to do a thorough investigation before coming to the public to issue biased reports that can incite the populace against the Government.
The Nigerian government has always been complying with its obligations under International Human Rights Law and the fundamental Rights enshrined in the 1999 Nigerian Constitution which guarantee freedom of peaceful assembly and expression. Nigerians are of course expressing their opinions, including through peaceful protest without hindrances.
Finally, there are no journalists or bloggers in detention without trial in the country today; I stand to be corrected by the Amnesty International.
- Kevin Adegbenga is a Freelance Journalist based in Port Harcourt. Follow on Twitter: @kelvinadegbenga