Human rights defenders and journalists in Nigeria have been subjected to harassment and intimidation for their work. HRDs documenting human rights abuses by security forces and corruption are particularly at risk. The authorities have taken little to no action to prevent these occurrences and in some instances have used the judicial system to arrest, detain and prosecute HRDs. The main tactics used against HRDs are threatening phone calls or messages, visits from security agents, surveillance, intimidation and summons to police stations. HRDs working in the north east of the country and areas prone to terrorist attacks face the additional risk of kidnapping by armed groups. Women HRDs working in this area are at risk of gender-based violence.
Journalists have been targeted by both the Nigerian authorities and Boko Haram for reporting on human rights violations. Despite section 29 of the Constitution protecting freedom of expression and the press, many journalists are practicing self-censorship due to the risk of harassment, abductions and physical attacks. There are serious concerns about the impartiality and independence of Nigeria’s criminal justice system as wealthy individuals, police, the security forces and government agencies have all repeatedly used it to target HRDs and journalists who have exposed corruption.