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Journalists, Civil Societies Protest Against Free Speech Repression by Police in Abuja

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Journalists and Civil Society groups marched in Nigeria’s Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, in protest of repression of free speech by the Nigerian Police.

The protesters reportedly occupied the federal Ministry of Justice building wielding placards and singing solidarity songs as they demanded an end to the gagging of journalists and an obvious clampdown on free speech.

The protesters were armed with placards carrying various inscriptions, including “How many times do I have to #FreeMyColleagues”, “Free Speech is a right, not a crime”, and “Journalism is not a crime”, among many others.

Sourced from X

The campaign was initiated by Gatefield Impact, a nonprofit and media advocacy organisation based in Abuja.

The organisation called for an end to the illegal and indiscriminate arrests of journalists and activists by the Police.

In a post on its X page, it says: 

The Nigerian Police has placed itself above the constitution and is waging a war on free speech, arresting journalists, activists, and citizens for their words. Free speech is a RIGHT, not a crime. Tell the @PoliceNG: #DontPoliceMySpeech

A good governance advocate, Zigwai Tagwai, wrote on X: “Journalists keep us informed and accountable,  @PoliceNG. Why aren’t the rights of people who report the truth being protected? The right to free speech is enshrined in the Nigerian constitution. The Nigerian Police should target real criminals, not citizens. #DontPoliceMySpeech

In another post, she wrote: “

Dear @PoliceNG, my tax money should not be used to prosecute innocent people. Fight crime, not speech. #DontPoliceMySpeech #ActiveCitizen #IntentionalMe #ProudNigerian

Social media influencer and Human Rights activist Rinu Oduala also joined the call to end the repression of free speech. She wrote on X: “The Nigeria Police Force should be used to fight crime, not speech.  Say No to the illegal arrests of citizens and journalists by @PoliceNG! #DontPoliceMySpeech

West Africa Weekly reported that physical attacks, stalking, and arrests of Nigerian journalists by the police and other state actors have become a regular occurrence under President Bola Tinubu’s administration. Over 20 journalists have been unlawfully detained or harassed so far under Tinubu’s administration.

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