Information on the status of censorship and/or freedom of the press in Nigeria, and on whether publications were shut down and editors arrested during 1993 and 1994 [NGA19637.E]

According to a journalist with the London-based African Concord, about 17 Nigerian newspapers have been shut down since 1993, and these closures have left more than 10,000 people unemployed (23 Feb. 1995). Also, several persons connected with the print media, such as editors, reporters and publishers, have been arrested and detained at one time or another since 1993 (ibid.). In a telephone interview, the same source stated that the bulk of the attacks on the media have taken place in Lagos and cities across the southwestern states. From all indications, the government is not prepared to relinquish its constant pressure on the press (ibid.).

In telephone interviews with two other oral sources on 23 February 1995, the sources corroborated all the information provided by the African Concord journalist. The sources included a professor of political science at the University of Texas in Austin, and a professor of journalism at the School of Journalism of Michigan State University in East Lansing, Michigan.

According to the University of Texas professor, who specializes in Nigerian and African politics, the Nigerian independent press lives in constant fear that editors, reporters or publishers will be harassed, intimidated, arrested or detained (23 Feb. 1995). The professor stated that the military government does not tell the media what to print (ibid.). However, constant government pressure is forcing many newspapers to avoid issues that could place them in direct conflict with the government (ibid.). According to the professor, the family members of media persons have also been targets of these government attacks (ibid.).

The professor of journalism at Michigan State University corroborated all the information provided by the University of Texas professor (23 Feb. 1995). According to the journalism professor, the crisis, created by the annulment of the June 1993 presidential election results, has altered the operations of the Nigerian press. Also, the press has become the government's principal target in its battles with the opposition (ibid.). The crackdown on the press has not been limited to editors, reporters and publishers, and newspaper vendors have been arrested for selling anti-government publications. According to the journalism professor, the Nigerian press is currently in operation only because editors and journalists have learned to avoid controversy.

For additional information on the Nigerian government's reaction to the press, and the fallout from the crisis of June 1993, please refer to the attachments. Also, please refer to reports by Human Rights Watch/Africa entitled Nigeria: "The Dawn of a New Dark Age" of October 1994, and Nigeria: Democracy Derailed of 27 August 1993. These documents are currently available at Regional Documentation Centres.

This response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the DIRB within time constraints. This response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum.


Journalist with New African, London. 23 February 1995. Telephone interview.

Professor of journalism, School of Journalism, Michigan State University, East Lansing, Mich.. 23 February 1995. Telephone interview.

Professor of political science specializing in Nigerian and African politics, University of Texas, Austin, Tex.. 23 February 1995. Telephone interview.


Africa Confidential [London]. 4 November 1994. Vol. 35, No. 22. "Nigeria: More Rungs on the Military Ladder," pp. 6-7.

. 9 September 1994. Vol. 35, No. 18. "Nigeria I: Military Machismo," pp. 1, 3-5.