Media Rights Agenda (MRA), a non-governmental organization, has announced the establishment of a hotline to provide support and assistance to journalists who are attacked during the 2023 elections in Nigeria.
The hotline is aimed at enabling journalists to receive guidance on their rights and available safety mechanisms, as well as litigation assistance, should that become necessary to enforce their rights.
According to Mr. John Gbadamosi, MRA’s Programme Officer, the hotline is necessary due to the increasing level of attacks against media practitioners and organizations, particularly during the last several months leading up to the elections.
He noted that the chilling effect on media freedom is putting Nigeria’s democracy at risk since there can be no genuine democracy where journalists and the media are unable to perform their functions without fear.
Gbadamosi further explained that the hotline number, 08138755660, can be used to make regular calls, WhatsApp calls, or to send text messages or WhatsApp messages to MRA. The number will also be available on MRA’s website and its social media platforms so that any journalist or media worker who is threatened, under attack or has been attacked in the course of their work or as a result of their work can easily access the number and get in touch with the organization.
Journalists and media workers may call the hotline or send messages to report incidents, including threats of physical harm, seek advice about their legal rights or available official mechanisms at domestic, regional or international levels, for them to lodge formal complaints about the violation of their rights.
The hotline will remain in operation from now until after the inauguration of the new government that will emerge from the elections.
The establishment of the hotline is a positive step in the right direction to ensure that journalists can perform their professional duties without fear of reprisals or attacks.
It is hoped that the hotline will enable journalists to report incidents of attacks and receive support and guidance to enforce their rights, as well as contribute to a more open and transparent democratic process.