By Otohwo Rosemary
Journalists’ safety and security was the focus of the training conducted by the Premium Times Centre for Investigative Journalism, PTCIJ, recently in Lagos.
The three-day training, with the theme “Holistic Security Training: Digital, Physical and Psychosocial Safety for Journalists”, was aimed to equip journalists and human rights defenders with the right tools and knowledge required in the course of carrying out their responsibilities.
As a way of introduction, participants and other facilitators gave their views on press freedom and the need to continually have an on-going conversation about journalists’ security and an enabling environment for journalists to operate.
In his opening address, The Executive Director of PTCIJ, Dapo Olorunyomi, said “the role of the journalist is the most important role in Nigeria’s democracy” adding that “in democracy, press freedom must remain alive”.
“It’s a conversation in progress and the press must endeavour to continue to hold institutions and people accountable because there is a legal basis to that.
“Investigative reporting is risky, time consuming and expensive,” he said.
Citing statutes, case laws, and the Nigerian constitution, Mr. Olorunyomi charged journalists to discharge their duties with accuracy, loyalty to their audience, and verifiable facts.
The Programme Manager of PTCIJ, Joshua Olufemi, while addressing the participants, “said the condition under which journalists operate can be improved as the society evolves.
He also disclosed the intention of PTCIJ to create an advocacy platform for journalists and human rights defenders to report attacks and threats they face while in their line of duty.
Peter Nkanga and Azeeenarh Mohammed who facilitated the training sessions, emphasized that personal security is every journalist’s responsibility and pointed the need for journalists to build resilience and every possible safety measure while going about their work.
Participants were exposed to different means of building resilience in cases of arrest, illness, accident, attacks, kidnap, confiscation of property and loss of data, among other physical security concerns.
They were taken through ways to manage psychosocial stress at work; emotional challenges; relationship with vulnerable sources; security concerns; financial concerns among others. Participants were also introduced to basics digital security threats and how to prevent such attacks and threats as well as various digital and online safety tools.
Media organisations such as International Centre for Investigative Reporting, ICIR, Premium Times, Channels, TVC, Nigeria Health Watch, Rezponder, The Nation, Daily Trust, Sahara Reporters, among others, participated in the training.
The training is part of Premium Times Centre for Investigative Journalism’s vision for a media landscape that is truly independent and advances fundamental human rights, good governance and accountability in Nigeria through capacity building, open data and investigative journalism.
The training was supported by Free Press Unlimited a foundation based in the Netherlands that believes reliable information is a basic human need.