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Nigeria: Death of journalist Precious Owolabi while covering a demonstration must be investigated

ARTICLE 19 strongly condemns the shooting death of journalist Precious while carrying out his work. Owolabi was covering a demonstration in Abuja when he was killed on 22 July 2019. The government must immediately investigate this crime and bring those responsible to justice. The safety of journalists covering protests is essential to freedom of expression and freedom of the press. It needs to be protected.

Nigerian journalist Precious Owolabi, who worked at Channels Television, and was a member of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC), was killed while covering a demonstration organised by members of the Shia group (Islamic Movement of Nigeria – MIN) on the detention of Ibrahim Yaqoub El Zakzaky, their leader.

We are deeply shocked and saddened by the violence that occurred in Abuja on Monday, which resulted in the death of journalist Precious Owolabi. We also condemn the other reported killings. Police, as guardians of the security of people and property, must fulfil their duty in accordance with the rights enshrined in international standards and the constitution, and avoid any improper use of force against protesters. We extend our sincere sympathy to Channels Television and all the families of the victims.”

“Impunity is the greatest challenge – journalists can be attacked, or killed, without any impartial and transparent investigation. The Government of Nigeria must do its utmost to ensure that an investigation is conducted in a transparent and prompt manner to hold accountable the perpetrators”, says Fatou Jagne Senghore, Regional Director of ARTICLE 19 Senegal/West Africa.

ARTICLE 19 notes that this violence jeopardizes the safety of journalists and demonstrators and constitutes a serious violation of freedom of expression, which is a fundamental right guaranteed by Article 40 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

We urge the Nigerian authorities to:

  • Ensure an independent and transparent investigation to establish accountability and bring the perpetrators to justice as soon as possible. This will be one of the best ways to prevent such acts, and to fight impunity;
  • Ensure the safety and protection of journalists in accordance with international conventions;
  • Comply with United Nations resolution 68/163 of 2013 and resolution 185 of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR) on the safety of journalists, which urges States to prevent violence against journalists and to counter the impunity of perpetrators

 

Information for editors

ARTICLE 19 is an independent international human rights organisation working throughout the world to promote, protect and defend freedom of expression. It takes its name from Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 10 December 1948, which guarantees freedom of expression. One of its priority programmes is the protection of journalists, human rights activists and the fight against impunity.

For more information, please contact:

Eliane NYOBE, Senior Program Assistant, ARTICLE 19 West Africa at: [email protected]

Tel: 221 33 869 03 22 22