NAS Press Release: ON THE MURDER OF MR. BAYO OHU OF THE GUARDIAN
It is yet another sad day for Nigeria as we have observed that in the past three years, a number of distinguished journalists have been assassinated. NAS wishes to express her outrage at the growing disregard for the sanctity of human life, particularly, that of journalists, whose work is critical for the reconstruction and development of our dear country.
It will be recalled that on Christmas eve, 2006,Mr. Godwin Agbroko, the Editoral Board Chairman of Thisday newspapers, was gunned down on Oshodi Mile 2 Expressway; while on 17 August, 2008, another member of Thisday Editoral Board, Mr. Abayomi Ogundeji, was shot in his vehicle on his way home from work. NAS believes the murder of Mr. Ohu and some of his professional colleagues in recent times, as a deliberate attempt by some renegades and reactionary forces to crush the freedom of expression and the pursuit of truth.
We know that journalists in many countries have been targeted and killed for investigating organised crime, drug trafficking, corruption and other crimes. The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) analysis reveals that almost one-quarter of all journalists killed over the past 15 years covered political topics, one fifth aimed at exposing corruption. We have no doubt, that this is the fate of Mr. Ohu, owing to the fact that the assailants only took away his laptop and cell phone.
NAS considers the inability of the Police to unravel the culprits behind these clear cases of assassinations, disquieting and unfortunate. It is any body’s guess that the perpetrators will feel emboldened and continue to carry out their sinister activities with impunity as long as they are not apprehended and held accountable for the high crimes committed. The security agencies must wake up and arrest the ugly culture of violence and impunity.
Section 22 of the 1999 Constitution saddled the mass media with the responsibility to hold the government accountable to the people. This, no doubt, is an herculean task. Regrettably, in countries like ours, where press freedom is not sufficiently valued, journalists continue to become targets of drug traffickers, extremists or political hustlers.
To this end, NAS implores the Nigerian government and media organizations to give priority attention to improving the safety of journalists, who we recognise, face great risk of death in the course of discharging their responsibility.
We wish to emphasise that the assassination of journalists goes beyond depriving people of their lives as it involves a deliberate curtailment of freedom of expression, and limitation on the freedom and rights of the society as a whole.
The killers of these journalists have contravened Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which states that "everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers."
Resolution 59(I) of the United Nations General Assembly, of 14 December 1946, ststes that freedom of information is a fundamental human right; General Assembly resolution 45/76 A of 11 December 1990 on information in the service of humanity; and resolution 1997/27, of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights, on the right to freedom of opininons and expression.
NAS wishes to extend her condolences to Mr Ohu’s family, particularly to his wife and children and his colleagues at The Guardian. We pray God to grant them the fortitude to bear the painful exit of this gentleman.