Mass Media – The Coverage Of Human Right Issues In Nigeria

Mass Media – The Coverage Of Human Right Issues In Nigeria

Mass Media – The Coverage Of Human Right Issues In Nigeria

The media roles in the area of human right protection can be evaluated based on the media concept which are supposed to be on ethical binding in as much as the media in information dissemination, aims at profit making, they ought not to forget that social responsibility is supposed to be their concern on public interest.

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According to Mrs. Nkem Fab – Ukozor, “media Ethics And Law” Pg 26, she said “However, there is bound to be conflict in any situation where making profits is against serving public interest”. “Bacareing profit and social responsibility is a concern…”

This accounts conjures well with the media ability to respond positively to the view of human right activist on major issues which are profusely identified by them. One thing among all is lack of effective leadership is a major problem contonting the euthnic met of democracy in Nigeria.

An unemergence of a sound economy and less political violence was been linked with an ethnicity and tribal sentiments, yet no a properly addressed developed account and different reactions from those so called social critics.

The mass media is a tool for success or failure of human right activities and essentially the main components of human rights activities all over the world. There is also a tool of human right abuse or violation exposis through it’s programmes and ideas of human rights activities are made for actions and the re-occuring action from the authority concerned.

The leadership and human right problems in Nigeria, which has made it’s mark long ago, has been attributed to the mass inability to portray an objective rather un-objective responsibility since the inception of the second republic. As researches identification, that Nigerians is endowed with greatness has been made but what has been responsible for the liability abundant talents, graduating into an effective economic and political leaders demands explanation.

However, the media sometimes indirectly expose plans to human right violation, who then take a precautionary drastic measures before the plans are expected. This is an act of media/human right activities hard in hard partnership in combating societal odds. For instance, when in Nigeria, the pro-democracy groups and NADECO planed to communicate the annulled June 12, 1993 presidential Election, in June 1997, which the media exposed. In response, the Federal military Government not only warned against the demonstration but also orders the police in all the states of the federation to deal ruthlessly with any such demonstrators.

The idea of holding ethics loyalty above national willing is a disturbing problem in Nigeria. As a Yoruba newspaper will find it very difficult in criticizing a Yoruba leader and like other tribal owned news medias.

This project focus on the role of human rights Activists in Nigeria and also the pros and cons of Journalistic/media reporting as in given analysis to the activities of human right violations in the country with reference to NADECO, human right committee and pro-democracy groups.

The emanating problem from reporting of human rights activities would also be examined objectively to see how the media fared in their reporting and analytical responsibilities. The reporter handicaps including media ownership problems will also come into place.

In addition to ownership, investigation on some other factors hindering media coverage of human right activities were carried out. Equally were factors not mentioned but they affect upright objective coverage.


The problem under investigation is the media coverage of human rights issues in Nigeria.

This uncovers the role of media ownership and coverage of human rights issues as concerning Nigeria.

The role of ethnicity and religion will be the study mostly on their interference in the coverage if Nigeria media in politics and human rights levels.


a) To investigate whether professional training of journalists or lack of it effects the media objectively.

b) To find out the different ways of media control by government media and how it affects media coverage of human rights issues and violations.

c) To discover whether ethnicity plays any influencing role in newspaper coverage of human rights activities

d) To find out whether different ethic groups cover human right issues differently.

e) Whether the discrepancies in media coverage

f) It differs, should be attributed to tribal sentiments.


This study stands as a knowledge enhance to Journalists, media proprietor/practitioners on the influence of media ownership in objective reporting analysis.

Aiding to this, is the works ability to stand as a solution finding to issue bordering on reportion in our media plans and houses especially where if borders on influence of mass media ownership.


a) Do privately owned Newspapers report objectively on human rights issues in Nigeria than government owned Newspapers?

b) Do tribalism and religious sentiments play prominent roles in Nigeria media more than any other issues or political events?

c) Do Nigerian Newspapers reflect issues of human rights in the content of their papers?

d) Do mass media operating withing a particular geographical location emphasizes that interest above any other consideration in the coverage of political and human rights issues?

e) Do News papers operating in Nigeria attain objectively in their coverage of political and human rights issues irrespective of what is at stake ethnically?

All these would contribute to the existing pool knowledge on media coverage of human rights issues in Nigeria. The study is expected to enhance Journalistic professionalism by identifying the issues that hinder objective and balanced reporting on Nigerian media.


On the process of giving vivid explanation on the course of investigating influencing factor affecting roles of media and coverage of human rights issues in Nigeria. The following hypotheses have been drawn.


H1 Private owned newspaper report objectively on human rights issues in Nigeria than government owned Newspapers.

Ho Private owned News papers do not report more objectively, issues of human rights in Nigeria than government owned newspaper.


H1 Tribalism and religious sentiments play prominent role in Nigeria media much more than any other issues or political events.

Ho Tribalism and religious sentiments do not play significant role in Nigeria media.


H1 mass media operating within a particular geographical location will emphasize their interest above consideration in the coverage of political and human right issues.

Ho Mass media in Nigeria within a particular geographical location will not emphasize the interest of that location in coverage of political and human right issues.

1) Presumptions are on the view that ethnic the coverage at Nigerian newspaper in political Journalism.

2) The researchers assume that with the dependent notion on ethnic basis and views, Newspaper house lays their political issues coverage.

3) It is also assumed that tribal sentiments will prevail over national unity in the coverage of human right issues.

4) Presumably, ethnic brase will affect the degree of credibility of newspapers across the ethnic regions

5) Finally we presume right issues if what is being reported will favour one ethnic group.


Selected newspapers, which circulate within the three major ethnic groups in Nigeria, that is, restricted investigation.

There should be a generalized result on other smaller ethnic groups which will be well presented due to time constrains and economic in balance the scope will be scaled down to a limited cirele to meet time extensor literature research done among which are relevant textbooks, Journals magazines, published track, Newspaper and oral views from prominent personalities and finally, a world of internet outreach on Nigerian issues on human right only.



It is natural that international community should today feel the need to focus on it’s own values and reflecting on it’s history, ask itself who constitutes its innermost identify. In other words, ask questions about humanity and about how, by protecting humanity, it protects itself.

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Not a day goes by without scenes of warfare or famine arbitrary arrest, rape, murder, expulsion and ethnic defense. Not a day pass without report on the most fundamental freedom without reminders of racrson and crimes which spawns intolerance and excesses it breeds under development and ravages it causes.

Let us deal first with the imperative of universality. To be sure human rights are product of history. As much they should be in accordance with history, should evolve simultaneously with history and should give the various people and nations a reflection of themselves that they recognize as their own.

Secondly, there is imperative of guarantees. Daily, we see the extent of unfavourable human rights and united Nations it self would be in the eyes of the world, if the declarations, covenants, charter, conventions and treaties that are being drafted in order to protect human rights remained theoretical or were constantly violated human rights should therefore be covered by effective mechanisms. Lastly, there is imperative of Democratization. It is our opinion; this is essentially what is at stake as we approach the ending of the new century. On democracy in states and within communities can ensure and guarantee human rights.

It is through democracy that individual collective, rights, peoples; person’s rights are reconciled. It is through democracy that states and communities’ rights are reconciled.


In order to excel on this project writing. We, the researchers embarked on wide range of different literature both print and Electronic. Published articles, lecture mimeographs, past research studies, published texts, reference books, Journals, magazines, internet browsing from a reliable person’s as a prerequisite to our write – ups.


The media are in a good position to make it known for its audience and a “definition” of the situation on a different and numerous issues, by analyzing crucial topics, gives an in – depth interpretation and projecting particular subject of a talk.

The media plays an important role with their “definition laying emphasis on the reflection of the real society. According to Atwood and Bullion “1982” mass media are central instruments in determining our mental images of the world beyond our immediate experiences. Media had gradually changed from it’s simplest area of communication to a more goal – focused phenomenon. For donkey years, it had witnessed ideas and written transformation. This was as an out come of the effect ever referring the native of the society.

The media in it’s watchdog role is entrusted with the responsibilities of show casing the society had succeeded for human interest.

Most of the times, the society rely on mass media to be accurate and balanced on the trends and implications which aid man to obtain a reasonable action as a “returnal dog”.

Macomb’s (1946) reflected on his opinion stating.

“The media is quite adopted in handling major misfortunes such as assassinations of political leaders, out break of war and economic catastrophes”. The press or media can act with great speed constantly to such event, more than most public or to a certain extend public institution in terms of reporting the broad secular wipes of history, the main issues and confident of consequently apart from other public organizations.

Numerous audiences have been merged out which look into the media to provide a non – stop dissemination of information’s of messages.

According to Berelson (1950) “People depend on media for various forms of gratification based upon content” when such communication is taken away from them, they fell isolated or rejected. Under developed nations, populations instantly developed media known characters, immediately mass communication can reach to them in a way they comprehend.

The existence of media is an effect of modernizing characters has been the theme of consideration argument thus William J.M. (9169) stated in his quite slight”…. Very great cost of applied research has” been embarking on to text the effectiveness of mass media. The result has been quite alarming for supporting teams of mass media.

The inception of mass media, Nigerian society, some obsolete ie (Traditional means of communication) such as Town criers, going, smokes etc were used to announce events as ordered by the traditional etiets mostly in market areas or from community to community.

Most of the times, drums were utilized; smoke from the sky signifies specific message, use of fits and message relay systems were used in disseminating information from village to village.

Thus, the inception of technology that developed the mass communication, which means procedures for transmitting messages to people at large (mass media). And at the same time at different places or areas no matter the distance.

According to Nigerian mutton communication policy, mass media have been known through out as information channels like Newspaper, magazines radio, Television, films, Journals and other relied electronic system.

The Emergence of Nigeria media, commenced with Newspapers “Iwe Irohin” in 1859 as an African Christian Newspapers by Henry Townsend. The fundamental content of the Newspaper includes: marriage announcement. Church norms, post offices, Notices and bits of general interest news.

The paper focused on writing against slavery, which assumed to be fight Human right violation and abuse. The following emergency of similar papers such as Anglo – African in 1863 – 1921, when African message was formed which later changed into present Daily Times of Nigeria.

The early Newspapers not only make way and agitate for democracy rather exposed colonization and human negligence of Nigerians.

The papers therefore were included in human rights activities and political emancipation of Nigerians against the colonial masters.


Understanding what entails human right, is obvious and essential, in emergence and implications it. Human right abuse and violation is as old as man in the world. Ancient regal codes forbids any atom of human linerty from state interference, yet the fight between the “privilege and less previlege” set has been for years. The systematic arrangement of human freedom scarted between princes and feudal assemblies.

One of the earliest codes was emancipated in 118 when cortec (feudal assemblies) received from king Alphonso 1X his confirmation of service or right including the right of accuse to regular trial and that of inviolability of life honour, home and property.

Part of the known and taped commitment of human rights was in English magna Garts accepted by king John in 1215.

Thought it was carried out by his members, barons, in their own selfish interest, it was however, by no ways introduced to assert right and freedom to all and sundry. Example clause 39 quoted that “No freedom should be taken or imprisoned or exiled or in anyway destroyed except by lawful Judgment.

Anglophone, francophone and America Revolution Led to the quick action on fundamental human rights worldwide. In 1945, the human Right charter got it’s endowment from the united Nation organizations. By 1949, there was general acceptance of human rights. Some of the important articles to theses rights are as follows:

1) Article 19, deal with the right to freedom to hold opinion with intrusion and to search, acquire and relay or impart information and inceptions through any media.

2) Article 18, it emphasized on freedom of through, conscience and religions

3) Article 12, states that no one should be subjected to artbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondent nor to attack upon his honour and reputation. Therefore, everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such invasion or attacks.

4) Article 20 (i) stresses on the issue of freedom of peaceful assembly and association.

5) Article 20 (ii) there should be no enforcement on belonging to any organization.

Man develop their ethical opinion either knowingly or unknowingly to show their class status. Unlike the society excubited itself in conflict in similar way.

A good attitude has constantly a class morality. According to his understanding regarding human right, Melville J. (1885 – 1963) stated; “in the present world, so many societies with divergent ways of life here brought into close contact questioning the authors of human rights. How can declaration of human rights be applicable to all human being and not be statement of rights conceived in terms of values prevalent in the countries of western Europe and America”. He noted further that human beings from birth were affected by their environment, not alone their behaviours but also their feelings, believes which are modified by their society through socialization.

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The same is applicable with moral values, where shape and influence their attitudes.

An individual knows all about his integrity with the help at his factural differences. That has been a primary factor militating the implementation of international Human Rights. For examples, many Nigerian citizen cannot express their opinion or ask question concerning the obvious laws or even secret trials and military court marshals of Nigerian citizens due to excessive military regions in offices, many see’s such Trial as what it ought to be. Some cultures still practice however; to some degree little of wicked acts not minding human rights codes. The recent example is the killing of the Ogoni mine (sarowiwa and others).

Culture changes and opinion as a matter of fact, the awareness for the respect of Human rights gain much prospects.

Many conventions have been organized in different Parts of the world to make the dream of the united Nations in 1948 on human Right to come true, thus the production of African charter on Human and people right of African states.

However, the international Human rights organization has embarked on campaign for promotion and protection.


Top officials against their subjects always cones Human Rights abuse and violation. These top government officials normally own the broadcast media. Not minding the above mentioned statement, philosophers finds out in recent years, Definition of Human Rights code and none generality discourages the progression of Human Right world wide.

In his opinion under Human right violation, seam mac bride et –al observed that “Universal Declaration of Human Right is an instrument whose historic significance and importance need no stressing.

However, violation of human rights are at times spreading gradually and unnoticed but with harmful effects, quite often shocking all over the world.

The problem of human rights claims a unique attention because it affects many aspects of mass media not minding the fact that intimation in fundamental.

The main role of the media is the provision of channels of communication for news and views to get information and talk against government and individual running affairs in order to inform the general public and alert to present the different position and public issues of the day, so that citizens can now form their own opinions on the information at hand.

To carry out these roles, it is important to have different typed of publication showing different opinions and point of views and all cost to resent the news without fear or favour.

Justice has not been done by the media in making their human rights a thing of Joy because most people in the society do not know their rights. Through this, should not be undertaken to be legally responsible for non – violation.

Mass media do the main function in stating the different things on human right abuse and violation in as much as they (the mass media) are eager and ready to do so mostly in explaining public opinion and in aiding populations to take knowledge of their riglets meanwhile, the questions to ask is that, “Are they ready to perform the Job?” the issues of the media to censorship and ownership influence interference, it is easy for the media to contribute by themselves to ensure that human rights coverage are not into existence for the entire audience awareness and information.

Sometimes, it is seen that media show material that generally over blow or neglect the rights of people either in some part or the society as a whole. The fundamental principle states in this respect that “The mass media have an important contribution to make in countering racialism and apertheid in the turbulent world in which we live”.

Media in our society tries to cover the issues on human rights violation unbiased to some degrees but some times with preferential treatment. Example is the popular June 16th 1986 student crisis” in Almadu Bello University which was given a kind of unbiased report by most Nigerian media. Part of in humanity that evolved during the crisis was revealed.

A magazine west Africa, captioned this incident as “Horror on our campus” in their zone 2, 1986 Nigerian Edition. The Ogoni mine incident, June 12 presidential. Election to mention but a few were property covered in earnest.

These attracted the sympathies of the international and the world indeed. In each controversial issues, we agreed and understand that it is not an easy task for the media to cover human right violation and abuse despite all their efforts. Due to press Laws, decrees and Lack of freedom to operate the management of this issues by the mass media is very hectic.

Freedom never comes from Government, thus in Author Nwankwu’s book, though on Nigeria which deals on the plights of Nigerian media carrying out reports concerning political and human rights issues, in his topic, freedom of the Press in Nigeria, defines the subject as the right to publisher, print broadcast or disseminate information in any way with responsibility, without influence, censor or control.

He further said that, “motives of media set up either from private or government interest is for the sole purpose of disseminating ideas and information but doing so in certain perspective which may be formal or informal, conscious or unconscious” when an editor approves news for broadcast, he does it unethical. He added that, “ I do not recall any occasion in which Daily star has criticized any action of the Anambra state government” the owners of Newspaper. This proves that ownership system affects media coverage of events.

For this obvious reason, pressure groups and voluntary organization have been established in every part of the world in order to come together and make their opinions either farourably or by fighting government and it’s activities tooth and nail. One of the example of these pressure group in Nigeria is NADECO, most of it’s members stages far away operating without governments interference or in governments control over their activities. The hazardous in the work of Journalism like murder, torture, detention and imprisonment etc. that encountered by the Journalists may be due to their reports over governmental activities. The most popular example is Gani fawehinmi who is a social critic and human right Lawyer and a dogged fighter.

All these governmental attitudes towards the media. Media practitioners are being scared away on reporting anything that could hold them responsible or publish any article on issues based ob human rights.

Not minding the above, media should relax so as to educate the people on issues concerning their individual rights and freedom as citizens, which they are entitle to and merited.


Though the imaginations made in writing this study have not been tested experimentally, the literature reviewed enabled we, the researchers in comprehending the idea of mass media coming out of human rights and also the Length of which mass media had attained in bringing together and managing the human right issues in Nigeria.

Many things which have been said pertaining human rights code by different countries of the world is not amazing. The issues of human rights in Nigeria is not issues that would be neglected this is because it comprises numerous co-operation or coercion both from the ruler (government) and ruled (citizens).

The case of censorship, media ownership and ethnicity are some main theme results affecting media report or coverage of human right issues and politics in Nigeria.

A similar problem was the execution of policies of international human right such as belief that truth is not always and generally valid but is limited by the nature of human mind (relativism). Empowerment influenced the media coverage by executing and rule as in the case of June 12 presidential election in 1993 etc. many government owned media found it very difficult to apply professional opportunity in cases of clashes between the government and the citizens.

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In handling this part of the project, the nature of mass media was discussed, not in Nigeria alone but also in some part of other countries in the world. The confident, hope which individual, groups, and international bodies rely on them to secure the benefits of the individual from oppression by racists, sectionalists or tribalism etc and to give unbiased coverage of human rights issues in order to educate the entire public generally.

The details on the right of the individual living a full legitimate life and enjoyment of some fundamental freedoms under the laws were equally discussed.

With the maximum simplicity of all the above, we look forward that this work/task will immensely ensure that the total realization of objective coverage of media report by the mass media houses in issues concerning human rights.


In all, five hypothesis were tested for statistical support. Four of the hypothesis were supported by set statistics while only one was rejected.

The first hypothesis, which states that privately controlled newspapers report objectively on human rights showed that out of 90 editions of that carried political and human right issues expressed by social activities, 78 (86.7%) of them were observed on the privately owned newspaper while 12 (13.3%) was carried in government owned media.

The findings supports the study made by ogbonna in 1993, which observed the government & individual ethics based on how newspaper covered zango katart crisis of 1992. He found out that majority of the native people were most critical of government handing of the crisis.

Hypothesis two as supported by statistics stated that tribalism and religious sentiments play prominent role in Nigeria media, much more than professional Journalism in coverage of political and human rights issues observed that 56 (62.2%) of the stories found in the newspaper were ethnically considered, stories 34(37.8%) represented professional Journalism. This implies that Nigeria newspapers have not lived up to their expectation in coverage of ethnic problem and government is not being responsible in opinion expression, in order not to uncover government inability.

Hypothesis three states that Nigerian newspapers reflect issues of human rights in the content of papers. This was proved by statistics. In various stories, it has been proved that newspapers were only inclined to report issues that are positives than government owned.

A research on the write – up pf Igbo – state owned newspaper at issue of the annulled June 12 election of 1993 which did neither did not go our of champion it nor opposed it rather championed the selection at an Igbo vice president. In essence, ethnicity plays a major role in newspaper coverage of issues of political nature this research recommends on other studies be done to know the impact of ethnicity on coverage at arts, business and sports in Nigeria.

As count be seen from table iv above, a cross tabulation of geographical location with it’s own interest and other interest shows that for Northern Newspapers (democratis). The frequency of it’s own interest stories occurred 15 times against 5 for other interest.

For the Yoruba paper (vanguard) it reported it’s own interest stories 37 times against other interest which is 9. the Igbo paper (champion) has 15 rate of occurrence for it’s interest and for others.

This settles the test for debunked hypothesis from stating that the mass media operating within a particular geographical location will emphasize their interest above any other consideration. It could gain statistical support but basic newspaper report should relate to people for qualcy publication. Proximity of occurrence lies on the readers interest.

Hypothesis five which states that Nigerian Newspaper will be objective in their coverage of political issues, depending on what is ethnically at state was supported.

This leads to a little contradiction for objective report is an impersonal treatment of news at state.

70 (77.7%) of the news were biased in consideration raising question of perception of objectivity. The coverage of human rights and political issues has been evaluated along ethnic group. Therefore, ethnicity plays a major role of what is reported and the papers consideration of an objective write up.



This research project commenced firstly with discussions on Background study, the statement of the problem, objective of the study, significance of the study study, research questions, hypothesis, assumption etc.

The main point in this is to carry out an investigation on the activities of media as regards the alleviative influence of Human Rights activities views in the society and to make suggestions n how to progress and forward the works of mass media.

The method for the in – depth analysis was based on theoretical approach.

Wide Literature research was conducted et which it’s fundamental objective was to campground the theory of media and Human Right movements. Another approach used was content analysis.

Research questions were equally used and their was discussion on four main Nigerian newspapers for the period of ten months. Some findings were made, some performance and function were evaluated and genral observation made.

Finally on the background of information gathered and data analyzed, we have all the capabilities to draw conclusions on this study.


Information gotten from this study contributes immensely which enable us to recommend on our project topic (mass media coverage and Human Rights issues in Nigeria)

i Mass media ownership in Nigeria i.e. the (ownership system) should be kept a side to ensure an efficient and effective productivity.

ii Authoritarian theory of the press seems to hinder the operations of the press due to censorship and others. Therefore there is need for libertarian press theory in Nigerian at full force the press are being afraid of Authorities (government).

iii Private ownership of media should be considered most than government, because this will encourage objectivity in coverage. Private ownership does not operate under the control or in favour of the government therefore there is utmost good faith in their operations likewise on the issues of human rights as a whole.

iv General acceptance of human rights code should be adopted for uniformity.

v Mass media should be accurate, balance; fair and objective for these are the Ethical issues in their operation of which they should abide by these will enhance credibility and confidence in media than any other system. They should work in accordance with those ethics so that they will empower the masses on the coverage of their fundamental rights and their reactions towards them whenever abused or violated.


From all indications, information collected in this research/investigation, we finalized that the mass media play a prominent role and contributed immensely in uplifting the status of Human Rights activity in the country despite all the problems hindering their day to day activities in carrying out their report and coverage.

This study courts and see’s mass media as the only channel for educating and enlighten the general public on issues concerning their basic fundamental right (Legal) and the ways in which measures or relations are to be taken whenever it is violated and abused.

Furthermore, this research investigation recommends that government and general public should endeavour to examine thoroughly in order to progress and diversify the activities of the Nigerian press and so as to reach the maximum goal to the wider range.

Media – The Coverage Of Human Right Issues In Nigeria

To place an order for the Complete Project Material, pay N5,000 to

GTBank (Guaranty Trust Bank)
Account Name – Chudi-Oji Chukwuka
Account No – 0044157183

Then text the name of the Project topic, email address and your names to 08060565721.  

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