Teaching Comparative Government and Politics

Friday, October 21, 2011

Nigerian newspapers

The Nigerian press is open, free, and sensational. Most newspapers (like most British papers) are tabloids full of remarkable stories. Sometimes those remarkable stories are about politics. And sometimes reporters get in trouble for the stories.

4 Nigeria newspaper reporters arrested over story
Police in Nigeria raided a newspaper office Wednesday after detectives arrested four journalists over the publication of a purported letter from the nation's former president instructing its current leader to fire government officials.

Police descended on the Abuja office of The Nation newspaper… Officers apparently were searching for material to identify the source that gave the newspaper the alleged letter from former President Olusegun Obasanjo to President Goodluck Jonathan…

The small daily newspaper, one of many publishing in Nigeria's unruly and outspoken free press, blamed the harassment on an Oct. 4 front page story about the letter. The newspaper alleged the letter outlined Obasanjo's desire for Jonathan to replace the leaders of the Petroleum Technology Development Fund and four other agencies with his own candidates.

The letter has hit a nerve in Nigerian politics, as it recommends replacing leaders from the Muslim north as opposed to the country's Christian south, where Jonathan and Obasanjo come from. Some also view Jonathan as beholden to Obasanjo's interests, so the letter raises new concerns about Jonathan's independence as a leader.

Obasanjo denied the authenticity of the letter and threatened legal action, but the newspaper said it stood by its story.

Attacks against journalists remain common in Nigeria, a country of 150 million where corruption pervades government and business…. though 12 years of democracy in the nation have enshrined a belief, if not an absolute right, to free speech.

However, many reporters accept cash payments from interview subjects or "brown envelope" bribes slipped into briefing materials at news conferences. Major politicians also finance newspapers to influence their coverage…

Nigerian Editors Arrested by Police
Coverage in the Nigerian press

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