Attacks on the Press
PRESIDENT OLUSEGUN OBASANJO HAS REPEATEDLY PRAISED NIGERIAN JOURNALISTS for their role in bringing down successive military dictators, but Nigeria's return to democracy has not relieved journalists of legal restrictions or of the hostility they face from the political class.
Like much of the country, the press was caught up in an often-turbulent national debate last year over the adoption of an Islamic legal system, known as sharia, by nine Nigerian states. Ahmed Sani, governor of Zamfara State, charged that Nigerian press coverage of the issue showed that local journalists were a "force of destruction" bent on "pitting citizens against one another." Sani had earlier ordered the official Zamfara State Radio not to air anti-sharia news items. In March, he ordered security agents to seize all copies of three daily newspapers, The Nigerian Tribune
, The Vanguard
, and The Guardian
, because they contained reports on sharia.