Nigeria has slid down five points from last year on the Reporters Without Borders (RSF) World Press Freedom Index, ranking 120 out of 180 countries in focus for 2021.
The country with the largest economy in African scored 39.69 points and is far behind Namibia (19.72) which ranks 24 and best in press freedom on the continent.
The West African countries, Cape Verde (20.09), Ghana (21.33) and Burkina Faso (23.17) rank 27, 30 and 37 respectively while Eritrea in East Africa is the country with the worst press freedom this year with a score of 81.45.
Ever since the 2013 index, countries have been given scores ranging from 0 to 100, with 0 being the best possible score and 100 the worst.
Attacks, arrests and detention of journalists as well as closure of media organisations by the governments and other factors that jeopardise media independence and make access to information difficult are the indices that RSF based its report on.
“Nigeria is now one of the most dangerous countries in West Africa. Since 2019, three Nigerian journalists have been killed with complete impunity while covering street demonstrations,” says the report.
It cited the killings of a Gboah TV reporter, Pelumi Onifade, and two others. Precious Owolabi and Alex Ogbu were said to have been killed by yet to be identified individuals while covering protests in Abuja in July 2019 and January 2020 respectively.
Onifade’s corpse was later discovered at a morgue in Lagos following his alleged arrest by the police from the scene of a protest he was covering on October 24, 2020.
Scandinavian countries occupy the first fours spots of best press freedom.
Norway is number one with 6.72 points, followed by Finland (6.99) while Sweden (7.24) is third and Denmark (8.57) ranks fourth.
The United States is placed 44th, scoring 23.93 lagging behind even South Africa occupying the 32nd spot with 21.59.
The degree of freedom available to journalists in 180 countries and regions is determined by pooling the responses of experts to a questionnaire devised by RSF, says the report.