The core theoretical framework on which this study anchors is to assess the legal problems/dangers vis a vis others that exist with the practicing of journalism in Nigeria, under the military with particular reference to General Sani Abacha’s regime.

The study revealed that journalists were arrested and detained in their thousands thereby providing little or no room for the pursuit of the TRUTH which is the hallmark of journalism profession. Sometimes they lose their lives while doing their job.

It further went down to review the related literature so as to give essence to the work.

In order to achieve the objectives of the study, content analysis was used as a research method to show clearly the manifest content of the media. It is an information technique that focuses on historical analysis of available information obtained from, newspaper, magazines, tapes or any other material that can guarantee permanence to information. With this research method, I was able to analyze things and come up with reasonable conclusion.

It was found that there couldn’t be meaningful interaction between the government and the citizenry, if the journalists were not allowed to operate freely. When the journalists were intimidated, they will be inhibited from faithfully reflecting the society to those in government and from letting the public know what those in power think or do.


Cover page                            I

Title page                                I

Approval page                            III

Dedication                            I

Acknowledgement                        V

Abstract                                VII

Table of content                        IX


Background of the study                    1

Statement of research problem                4

Objectives of the study                        5

Significance of the study                    6

Research questions                        6

Research hypothesis                        6

Conceptual and operational definition            9

Assumption                                11

Limitation of study                        12       

Reference                                13


Sources of literature                        15

The review                                16

Summary of review                        30

Reference                                31


Research method                            33

Method of data collection                    34

Method of data analysis                    35

Reference                                36


Results/findings of the study                    37

Reference                                44


Summary                                45

Recommendation                            46

Bibliography                            49

Questionnaire                            53




Journalism profession in Nigeria encounters a catalogue of problems especially under the military regime. There has been no smooth romance between the journalists and the government in power, rather what was seen then was harassment, detention without trial, of the journalist involved. These hazards/dangers that face the profession were caused by the incessant enactment of repressive press laws by the government.

The masses depend on the journalists for information on what is happening in their immediate environment, therefore, the journalists are the link between the rulers and ruled. So any negative treatment on the journalists affects not only the people in the profession, but also the attitude and behaviour of the Nigerian populace in general.

Therefore, the hazardous nature of journalism profession under the military era should be looked into so as to discourage the populace not to admit anything like military rule again in the Nigerian society. It was said that the worst administration in a democratic dispensation is far much better than the best administration under military regime.

Nat withstanding the fact that certain legal/professional techniques were employed to check and curtail the excesses of journalists, the military, when in power, were known for chaining the journalists with draconian laws, obnoxious decrees, sack threats, elimination and constant proscription of media houses. Journalists may see and hear evil and such will be sealed to make sure that they don’t loose their lives or jobs.

News watch magazines which was the toast of Nigerians because of fearlessness, independent views and radical approaches to issues was put to stop when its editor-in-chief was exterminated through a letter bomb blast, followed up six months later by a proscription.

When the provision for freedom of expression is guaranteed, some stings are being attached to it, which made the journalist not to be free. In some government media houses, the noble profession is forced to dance to the tune of their ‘lords’. While trying to tell unto the ethics of their profession, they are meant to endanger their lives.

At a time, it became a sort of worry on how the journalists are being intimidated and the clever manner, which the government officials take in denying their own statement in the face of naked truth. At first, the government in power tries to embrace the profession just to get it established and thereafter turns against it. Because the journalists are ready to face their unravel their injustices, they (the military) turns to scrutinize and cripple the press unnecessarily with accumulation of obnoxious laws.


Usually under military regime, more government owned media were meant to be than private owned. As at the time of Abacha, about six schools of journalism as well as many mass communication departments were in existence. Also, over sixty and fifty radio/television stations respectively and over 157 for newspaper and magazine were in existence as at the time under review.

With all these, there supposed to be existence of perfect journalism profession due to the fact that they are being trained properly with polished languages, balanced and fair reporting etc. However, it was still noticed that cases of arrest of journalists by security agents, loss of job under written and unwritten obnoxious laws, were still the hallmark of any military regime, even when the constitutions made provisions for such basic human rights and freedom by the government. The evidence was seen in the pronouncement by the Abacha regime of establishing special court to try indicted journalists sometimes in 1997. The journalist, seeing all the hazards, resorts to dance to the whims of the government or writes himself to jail.

With these, questions arise on if the journalism profession still worth its meaning with all these dangers posed to it, if the journalists were really free and if there was neglect of ethics and principles of journalism on the part of journalists.


The aim of the research should be to find out:

I.    The dangers, which confront journalism profession within the period under review.

II.    If it is unethical to criticize government policies/actions or public figures.

III.    The implication of such extra-journalistic laws in the profession of journalism in Nigeria.


I.    To make the journalists, the potential journalists as well as the entire society, not to admit anything like military administration in Nigerian society.

II.    The study will also broaden the views of mass communication students, especially those whose intentions are to get into the profession on their rights and responsibilities as journalists.


This study shall provide answers to the following questions about the dangers posed to journalism profession especially when the military men are in power.

I.    Does the military government follow the constitution whenever they are in power?

II.    Do journalists in Nigeria enjoy free assess to information source?

III.    Are Nigerians satisfied with the kind of treatment the journalists pass through in the course of their duty?

IV.    Do the controversial press laws violate freedom of the press in Nigeria?

V.    Do the Nigerian journalists abide by the imagination of such codes and practices?

VI.    Does freedom of expression and freedom of the press exist during the Abcha regime?


In evaluating the hazards of journalism profession in Nigeria under Abcha’s regime, the following hypothesis shall be tested.

H1:    The promulgation of repressive laws is an impediment to professional growth of the journalists.

Ho:    The promulgation of repressive laws is not an impediment to professional growth of the journalists.

H2:    Repressive press laws constitute the major obstacle to the objectivity of journalism profession.

H0    Repressive press laws do not constitute the major obstacle to the objectivity journalism profession.

H3:    Press laws affect the freedom of journalists.

H0:    Press laws do not affect the freedom of journalists.

H4:    The effects of press laws on the performance of journalists under Abacha regime depended on the ownership and type of press.

H0:    The effects of press laws on the performance of journalists under Abacha regime do not depend on the ownership and type of press.


For the purpose of this study, the following terms shall be defined both conceptually and operationally for clarity.

I.    Journalism profession

II.    Journalist

III.    Press

IV.    Press freedom

V.    Extra legal constraints


Conceptual: A specialized duty that aims at informing, educating, entertain and mobilizing the people through writing or publishing a newspaper, magazine or periodicals.

Operational: A profession, which is all about informing the people about the happenings around them and expectations in various part of their society as well as bringing the people’s problem to the knowledge to the government.


Conceptual: Person engaged in the work of writing, editing or publishing a newspaper, magazine or periodicals.

Operational: Person engaged in the business of reporting, writing and editing of newspaper and magazine contents only.


Conceptual: Printed periodicals including magazines, newspapers, books, leaflets etc.

Operational: Newspapers and magazines published excluding books, leaflets etc.


Conceptual: To act (journalists), write, without prior constraints, fearing nothing in a proposed action or issue. Freedom to pursue the truth and the publics right to know.

Operational: To act without any form of restriction by the government of the day through the use of legal and extra legal methods. It means in this context, the right of the press government that are not within the limits of law of the land.


Conceptual: Going out of way of established to impede the work of the person or persons targeted.

Operational: The use of harassments, lobbying, force and brown-envelopes to waken the performance of the press in Nigeria within the period under review.


The study hinged on the assumption that:

1.    Certain instruments of the government, which is known as press laws, are suppressing journalism.

2.    Ownership of the media under the military affects journalism profession in terms of repressive press laws.


The study is such that should have attracted a very wide scope, but because of time and financial constraints, the study is limited to the period between 1993-1998.

It has not been easy shuttling between offices for the gathering of facts, visiting bigger libraries going through text books, newspapers and magazines articles and related subjects and also studying project works of other scholars within the given time schedule.


Agbo B. et.al, (2002) Media and Society

Ebo, S.J., (1994). Broadcasting Management, Enugu NNPIS


Ekwelie, S., (1986) Nigerian Press Under Civilian Rule.

Federal Government of Nigeria (1984) Official Gazette.

Nwankwo, et. el (1993). The Crisis of Press Freedom in Nigeria,

Lagos, constitutional Rights Project Publication.

Ogbandah, Onyedike, (1991) “Origins and Interpretations of

Nigerian Press Laws”, in ACCE, African Media Review Vol. 5 No 2, Pp. 61-62.

Ohunsuji, M.A., (1989) Introduction to Print Journalism.

Omu, Fred., (1978). Press and Politics in Nigeria, London.

            Longmann Group Limited.

Omeje, M. (2004). Community Journalism, Lecture Note

(Unpublished) Department of Mass Communication, IMT.

Ukozor, N. (2003). Media ethics and Law, Lecture Note

(Unpublished) Department of Mass Communication, IMT.




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