Freedom of the Press

Nigeria

Nigeria

Freedom of the Press 2002

2002 Scores

Press Status

Partly Free

Press Freedom Score
(0 = best, 100 = worst)

57

Political Environment
(0 = best, 40 = worst)

24

Economic Environment
(0 = best, 30 = worst)

18

This vast, turbulent country struggles under President Olusegun Obasanjo, a former general, to provide a freer press than was permitted up to three years ago by the military dictatorship. Several private radio and television stations broadcast with little government interference. Numerous newspapers, including some highly sensational and not always accurate, provide a wide spectrum of views. Journalists have criticized Decree 60, which created the government-appointed Nigerian Press Council and gave it the power to accredit journalists and register newspapers, as a limitation on press freedom. Criminal defamation laws used against journalists inspire some self-censorship. Armed police entered the offices of one magazine, fired guns to disperse the staff, and arrested the publisher on charges of defaming the president. An Agence France-Presse correspondent interviewing on a street in the north was threatened with lynching by a religious sect. An editor of the state-run News Agency of Nigeria was shot dead. Police frequently manhandled news photographers at public meetings, but President Obasanjo chided the officers for resorting to tactics employed by the earlier dictatorships. Some 20 diverse newspapers appear daily in Lagos, the largely Christian capital city in the relatively well-educated south. These papers are largely suspect in the predominantly Muslim, mainly illiterate north. Many acts of violence against journalists occur in the north. The governor of one northern state threatened to prosecute journalists who write negative reports on the implementation of Islamic Sharia in the state. In October, the government of Kano state banned a radio station from broadcasting its programs there on "cultural and religious grounds."