Censorship

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Censorship
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Nigeria 🇳🇬 is an African country which practices Christianity and Islam.

General censorship[]

From 1859 to 1960, the Nigerian press was privately owned. However, this did not guarantee the freedom of speech since the majority of newspaper proprietors were actively involved in politics. Therefore, these newspapers typically acted as advocates of their owner's political interest. In addition, the pressure coming from ethnic groups was also a contributing factor to self-censorship among news organizations. News that expose certain "undesirable" aspects of a tribe may suffer a boycott or in some cases, causing ethnic tension. An example of this kind of ethnic tension happened in 1957, when the Igbo newspaper the West African Pilot provided news with a clear bias against a Yoruba political group called Egbe Omo Oduduwa. The Yorubas responded by launching their own news outlet called the Daily Service in order to retaliate and making corrections to those statements. From then on, in order to avoid conflicts, each news organization catered their message accordingly to the desire of the local leaders. For example, the Tribune tend to be more considerate when mentioning issues related to the Yorubas while the Kaduna-based New Nigerians carefully vetted the northern opinion on national matters. The Yorubas, as an ethnic group, have the most influence over the news since they occupy most media-rich territories in the country, including Lagos, the country's largest city. Today, newspapers continue to represent the interests of distinct ethnic groups.

In 1961, the government of the now-independent Federation of Nigeria started an operation to gain control of the press. It began with the seizure of the Morning Post's headquarters, a very prominent and important news outlet in Lagos. The government then control it so tightly that the paper eventually went into decline and shut down by the military dictatorship in 1972.

After the demise of the Morning Post, other newspapers followed suit as the government slowly expanded its influence over the press. Although many news organizations did go out of business as a result of being manipulated by the government, others such as the Daily Times of Nigeria survived and continue to operate to this day despite having been controlled by the government since 1977.

In 1999, freedom of expression became protected by the new Nigerian Constitution. However, defamation laws were afterwards passed. Critics maintain that though measures of freedom of the press have improved, there is still room for improvement. Nigeria was described as "partly free" in the Freedom of the Press 2011 report published by the Freedom House (see yearly rankings in Freedom House ratings in Nigeria section).

On April 26, 2020, the Reporters without Borders World Press Freedom Index ranked Nigeria 115th out of 180 countries surveys. Reporters without Borders cited killings, detentions and the brutalisation of journalists alongside targeted attempts to shrink the civic space by the Nigerian government as reason for the ranking. However, this rank is higher than the rank of 146th which Transparency International gave Nigeria earlier in the year regarding corruption. The Reporters without Borders report further stated "With more than 100 independent newspapers, Africa's most populous nation enjoys real media pluralism but covering stories involving politics, terrorism or financial embezzlement by the powerful is very problematic."

In 1983, the power of the Second Republic was challenged due to accusations of vote rigging and electoral malfeasance. As a result, the newly elected government decided to leave the military with the task of censorship. At the hand of the military, however, writers felt a certain level of immunity from persecution, especially when it was known that "generals don't read novels". When the Second Republic was overthrown on 31 December 1983, the task of censorship was once again given back to the federal government. However, as of 2013, military censorship was still applicable to information regarding military strategy and confidential materials for security purposes.

Under federal law, homosexuality is illegal in Nigeria and punishable by fines and/or up to 14 years' imprisonment.

Book censorship[]

  • On one occasion, a student named Oherei was arrested and accused of being a communist sympathizer when he published a novel called "Behind the Iron Curtain". He was then acquitted two days after the arrest.
  • My Watch (2005) - this this three-volume memoirs of the former Nigerian president Olusegun Obasanjo was banned in Nigeria due to his high criticism of nearly everyone in Nigerian politics. The books were ordered to be seized by the High Court in Nigeria until a libel case had been heard in court.

Film censorship[]

In 1978, the government created the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), which was responsible for censoring electronic media, such as radio, television, and DVD. Electronic media was predominantly privately owned, but the government was able to influence content through the NAN. In June 1994, the National Film and Video Censors Board replaced the NAN as the official schedule agency of the government. It is responsible for licensing film makers and reviewing their works accordingly to the following criteria: educational and entertainment value; national security sensitivity; avoidance of blasphemy, obscenity, and criminality; avoidance of provoking religious and racial confrontation; abstention from violence and corruption; and abstention from disrespecting African personalities.

  • I Hate My Village - this Nigerian film was banned for its depiction of cannibalism.
  • Omo Empire, Outkast, Outkast 2, Shattered Home, Virgins Night Out are banned for damaging "every known decent and noble tendency of the African psyche and culture," by portraying obscene acts among young women in certain cuts of the film.
  • Issakaba 4 - this movie about has been banned due to its depiction of youth vigilantes.
  • District 9 - this film was banned for its unflattering depictions of Nigerian scammers and gangsters, with the boss of the gangsters being named "Obasanjo" (which was also the surname of the then-President of Nigeria Olusegun Obasanjo).

Internet censorship[]

Listed by the OpenNet Initiative as no evidence of Internet filtering in all four areas for which they test (political, social, conflict/security, and Internet tools) in October 2009.

There are few government restrictions on access to the Internet or credible reports the government monitors e-mail or Internet chat rooms. Although the constitution and law provide for freedom of speech, including for members of the press, the government sometimes restricts these rights in practice. Libel is a civil offense and requires defendants to prove the truth of opinion or value judgment contained in news reports or commentaries. Penalties include two years' imprisonment and possible fines. Militant groups such as Boko Haram threaten, attack, and kill journalists in connection with their reporting of the sect's activities. Journalists practice self-censorship.

Reporting on political corruption and security issues has proved to be particularly sensitive. On 24 October 2012 police in Bauchi State arraigned civil servant Abbas Ahmed Faggo before a court for allegedly defaming the character of Governor Isa Yuguda after he posted messages on his Facebook account accusing the governor of spending public funds on his son's wedding. On 4 November, the court discharged Faggo, but media reported the state government fired him later that month.

  • In 2012, several Internet news sites critical of the government experienced server problems, which site owners attributed to government interference. Such disruptions usually lasted a few hours.
  • In 2008 two journalists were arrested for publishing online articles and photos critical of the government.
  • In 5 June 2021, Twitter was banned in Nigeria after the site deleted posts by and suspended the account of President Muhammadu Buhari for violating its abuse policy and for threatening the separatist group Indigenous People of Biafra which had invoked the Nigerian Civil War as a theme. Buhari criticised the actions for infringing his freedom of speech. The use of Twitter was made a prosecutable offence since then.

Television censorship[]

Although the government censors the electronic media through the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), which is responsible for monitoring and regulating broadcast media, there's no established proof towards Government's control of the media. The law requires local television stations to limit programming from other countries to 40 percent and restricts foreign content of satellite broadcasting to 20 percent. The NBC's 2004 prohibition of live broadcasts of foreign news and programs remains in force, but does not apply to international cable or satellite services.

Other censorship[]

  • Radio stations are still subject to attacks by political groups. For example, in January 2012 some media figures alleged the NBC warned radio stations not to broadcast stories about fuel subsidy protests.
  • The Voice of America is not allowed to broadcast programs through local affiliate stations.
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