Nigerian military seizes leading newspapers

New York, June 6, 2014–The Nigerian military this morning confiscated or destroyed copies of at least four leading newspapers, Punch, Leadership, Vanguard, and The Nation, around the country, according to news reports. A defense official claimed that authorities were looking for “materials with grave security implications,” the reports said.

“Denying Nigerians access to news and information sows the seeds of rumors and distrust,” said Sue Valentine, CPJ’s Africa program coordinator. “While we recognize that Nigeria faces security threats, these can never effectively be addressed by media blackouts or persecution of journalists. We call on authorities to respect the vital role that media play in circulating information and holding government to account.”

Journalists and news outlets have been targeted by both sides in Nigeria’s protracted war against extremist sect Boko Haram, which seeks to establish Islamic rule in northern Nigeria. Security agents have used the pretext of the insurgency to threaten, harass, detain, and seize the equipment of journalists. Boko Haram has also threatened and carried out attacks on journalists and media outlets over reporting deemed unfavorable to their cause. Some journalists have relocated from Boko Haram strongholds in Nigeria’s northern regions.