Glaring gaps in Nigeria's pre-elections reports - watchdog

2015-02-05 18:03

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Abuja - There are "glaring gaps" in Nigeria's domestic news coverage in the run-up to the 14 February general election, a media watchdog said on Thursday, leaving citizens without the information necessary to make an informed decision at the polls.

"The scarcity of news coverage is tacitly tolerated by the government, although the public's need for information is greater than ever in such times of political unrest and violence," Reporters Without Borders said in a report.

The watchdog said that news coverage was particularly sparse in Nigeria's north-eastern Borno state, which has suffered a series of deadly attacks at the hands of Islamist terrorist group Boko Haram.

Journalists have been unable to enter the village of Kambari – 5km from Borno state capital Maiduguri - after suspected Boko Haram militants burned down the village, killing at least 15 people. Fleeing villagers were the only source of information.

A similar situation occurred when Boko Haram fighters killed hundreds of people in the city of Baga, also in Borno state, on 3 January.

"Because of the security risks, local journalists cannot access this region, which is now a no-go area that even the Nigerian army dares not enter," the report said, referring to the region as a "black hole."

Reporters Without Borders also criticised President Goodluck Jonathan for failing to communicate details about terrorist attacks in a transparent manner.

"President Goodluck Jonathan's evasiveness as regards the media and the public's rights in general is becoming very worrying," the organisation said.

The fact that "it is currently impossible for foreign journalists to get press visas, as has been the case for the past five months... does not bode well for pluralist coverage of the election."

Read more on:    boko haram  |  goodluck jonathan  |  nigeria  |  west africa  |  nigeria 2015 elections

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