The Federal Republic of Nigeria, commonly referred to as Nigeria is found in West Africa. it is bordered by Benin to the west, Chad and Cameroon to the east, and Niger to the north. Its coast in the south lies on the Gulf of Guinea in the Atlantic Ocean. Nigeria became a formally independent federation in 1960, and plunged into a civil war from 1967 to 1970. It has since alternated between democratically-elected civilian governments and military dictatorships, until it achieved a stable democracy in 1999, with its 2011 presidential elections being viewed as the first to be conducted reasonably freely and fairly. The country is viewed as a multinational state, as it is inhabited by over 500 ethnic groups, of which Hausa, Igbo and Yoruba are the largest.

At – a – glance

Capital: Abuja

Official language: English

President: Muhammadu Buhari (since 2015)

Population: 166.6 million (UN, 2012)

National Anthem: Arise, O Compatriots

The Media & Freedom of Expression Landscape in Nigeria

Press freedom and free expression rights are constitutionally guaranteed. However, these rights are limited by laws on sedition, criminal defamation, and publication of false news. Also, sharia statutes in 12 northern states impose severe penalties for alleged press offenses. Government officials also restrict press freedom by publicly criticizing, harassing, and arresting journalists, especially when they cover corruption scandals, human rights violations, or separatist and communal violence.

According to reports, in 2014, the military made a number of attempts to punish critical reporting. For instance, in June, soldiers seized copies of several newspapers, including the Nation, Daily Trust, and Leadership, from key distribution points in a coordinated nationwide effort. Several of the affected outlets had published articles critical of the military’s campaign against Boko Haram. In August, soldiers invaded the offices of the Daily Trust in Maiduguri, the capital of Borno, and arrested two managers for publishing an article about a mutiny over “inadequate weapons” in the fight against Boko Haram. The managers were released the same day without charges. Journalists and media entities have also been attacked by non-state actors, including Boko Haram. Cases of violence against journalists often go unpunished thus, promoting the culture of impunity.

While the government generally does not restrict access to the internet or monitor personal communications, in January 2014 the Premium Times, an online investigative newspaper, experienced a denial-of-service (DOS) attack. This followed another incident in November 2013 in which the paper’s editors were prevented from posting links to its Facebook page for two months, because other users—whom the outlet alleged had been hired by the government—had reported the links to be “abusive.”

President Muhammadu Buhari, who was elected in 2015, reiterated his government’s commitment to ensuring and protecting press freedom and freedom of expression in Nigeria.

For more information on the status of FoE in Nigeria, visit: Freedom House

Media Regulatory Bodies in Nigeria

The Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) is a professional media organization which connects journalists nationwide with the information and opportunities they need to advance professionally and improve media in Nigeria.

There is also the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), a parasternal of the Federal Government of Nigeria, empowered to regulate the broadcasting industry.

The Media Rights Agenda(MRA), Media Rights Agenda (MRA) was established in 1993 as an independent, non-governmental, not-for-profit organization for the purpose of, among other things, promoting and protecting media freedom, freedom of expression and access to information in Nigeria. MRA is a member of AFEX.