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Jeffery, Anthea Jean (1983) Media Freedom in an African State: Nigerian Law in Its Historical and Constitutional Context. PhD thesis. SOAS University of London. DOI:

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Freedom of the media, a subject of wide-ranging current international debate, is of vital contemporary importance in developed and developing countries alike. International and national guarantees of media freedom illustrate the increasing recognition of its importance; but demonstrate also the difficulty of balancing media freedom against competing interests. Nigeria, arguably the most influential of the new African states, is a richly revealing subject for the study of media freedom, for it combines a legacy of English colonial law with the recent adoption (in 1979) of a constitution loosely patterned on that of the United States of America: and which accords continued recognition to guarantees of fundamental rights (including freedom of expression) which were originally introduced before Nigerian independence (in 1960) and which served thereafter as a model for similar guarantees adopted by many of the new states of the Commonwealth. The thesis provides a brief overview of the laws which govern the media in Nigeria, and then examines selected rules in their constitutional context, considers their defects and analyses the extent to which they impose unjustifiable restrictions on freedom of the media. Recommendations are made for the reform of the law: in some cases, but certainly not all, by following English developments and - more generally - by adopting the approach taken in the United States of America to analogous problems of media freedom. The laws examined are those governing media licensing and regulation; sedition; defamation (civil and criminal); and contempt of court (especially the sub judice rule, publications 'scandalising' the court, the reporting of judicial proceedings by the media and the obligation of journalists to disclose the identity of their sources). Within each topic, the relevant Nigerian rules are described (with reference to both legislation and case law), important developments in the United Kingdom are analysed, and the approach of the United States of America to these questions is contrasted. In conclusion, it is submitted that Nigeria should adopt the various reforms suggested: and the significance of such development for other Commonwealth countries (with similar laws governing media freedom) is considered.

Item Type: Theses (PhD)
SOAS Departments & Centres: SOAS Research Theses > Proquest
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 12 Oct 2020 17:19

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