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#DontPoliceMySpeech Campaign Inaugurated To Protect Journalists

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A cross section of journalists during the protest in Abuja.

A coalition of Nigerian journalists and civic space defenders have launched the #DontPoliceMySpeech campaign in response to the growing attacks on journalists and online critics of the government in Nigeria.

The campaign, inaugurated in Abuja, aims to put an end to the abuse of power and the criminalisation of free speech by the authorities.

Over 200 journalists, civil society organisations and citizens took part in a peaceful march, demanding an end to violations of freedom of expression and unlawful arrests. The campaign specifically focuses on the misuse and weaponisation of the Cybercrimes Act to suppress free speech and expression.

Under the administration of President Bola Tinubu, at least 25 journalists have been unlawfully arrested. A recent incident involving the illegal arrest and prosecution of Ms. Chioma Okoli for writing a review of a tomato paste she purchased using state resources has sparked disappointment among Nigerians.

According to Ms. Shirley Ewang, the advocacy lead at Gatefield, the Cybercrimes Act, originally intended to combat online criminal activity, is now being used as a tool to silence dissent. Despite recent amendments, Section 24 of the Cybercrimes Act continues to be misused by Nigerian security agencies, violating the Nigerian constitution.

The campaign has released a public service announcement (PSA) video and a set of posters illustrating the various ways in which Nigerian security authorities have violated the rights of journalists and citizens to silence them.

Shirley Ewang stressed that the suppression of the press and public discourse is authoritarian and undermines citizens’ rights to demand accountability. She called on the Ministry of Justice to stop using taxpayers’ money to prosecute journalists for exercising their right to freedom of expression.

The coalition’s key demands include an immediate end to police abuse of power, fair justice processes, and the protection of fundamental rights for all Nigerians.

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