Friday, January 30, 2015 2:24 am
Nigeria’s main opposition party on Thursday accused the government of blocking foreign journalists from covering next month’s elections and urged international monitors to press for access.
The All Progressives Congress (APC) claimed there had been a “systematic denial of visas” by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) administration of President Goodluck Jonathan.
“A regime that has nothing to hide or fear will not hesitate to allow international coverage of what is undoubtedly one of the most important elections in the world this year,” said APC spokesman Lai Mohammed.
“Information reaching us indicates that most of the foreign journalists who applied for visas to travel to Nigeria from different parts of the world for the elections have been kept in abeyance under the guise of security clearance.
“This is totally unacceptable and it is another indication that this administration has a lot of skeletons in its cupboard as far as the forthcoming elections are concerned.”
The APC, which is expected to push the PDP close at the February 14 presidential and parliamentary vote, called on local and international election observers to take up the matter with the government.
The opposition alleges that the PDP is trying to “scuttle” the vote with a smear campaign on its candidate, former military ruler Muhammadu Buhari, and through the courts because it fears it will lose.
There was no immediate comment from the government on the visa issue.
Sue Valentine, Africa programme director at the Committee to Protect Journalists, said they were “extremely concerned” by the situation.
“When Africa’s largest economy and most populous democracy goes to the polls it is global news,” she told AFP in an email.
“In keeping with its claim that it respects press freedom and that these elections will be transparent and democratic, the Nigerian government should expedite the accreditation of journalists.
“The world can only understand the challenges and opportunities in Nigeria if journalists are on the ground and free to report a multiplicity of stories.”