Freedom of the Press

Nigeria

Nigeria

Freedom of the Press 2003

2003 Scores

Press Status

Partly Free

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

53

Political Environment
(0 = best, 40 = worst)

22

Economic Environment
(0 = best, 30 = worst)

16

Freedom of speech and expression is guaranteed, and the government generally respects these rights in practice. However, a number of legal restrictions continue to hinder the freedom of the press. Passed in 1999, Decree 60 created the government-appointed Nigerian Press Council and gave it the power to accredit journalists and register newspapers. In addition, criminal defamation laws are still used against journalists. In the largely Muslim northern states, Islamic law imposes additional penalties for alleged press offenses. Nevertheless, numerous independent publications provide a wide spectrum of views, and several private radio and television stations broadcast with little government interference. In February, officials granted broadcast licenses to 5 new television companies and 16 private radio stations. Reporters remain subject to occasional instances of intimidation, harassment, and arbitrary arrest at the hands of state governments, the police, and other actors. An article published in the private daily ThisDay sparked religious riots in November in which several hundred people were killed, while the newspaper's Kaduna office was burned down and Islamic authorities in the state of Zamfara called for the author of the article to be put to death. Journalists are often not paid in a timely manner, and some are susceptible to bribery. After Time magazine reported in April that some officials tried to bribe foreign reporters with cash, the government threatened to prosecute any foreign correspondent who wrote "malicious falsehoods" about the country.