Nigeria censors documentary in growing crackdown (VIDEO)

AP, Monday 22 Apr 2013

After months of being available online, Nigeria government decides to ban 'Fuelling Poverty', a documentary which comments on the culture of greed and corruption in Nigeria

Nigeria's government has refused to allow a documentary about a massive strike last year to be shown publicly in the country.

The 30-minute film called "Fuelling Poverty" has been online for months, but recently Nigerian officials have refused its director permission to show it publicly in this oil-rich nation of more than 160 million people.

While free speech is enshrined in this democratic nation's constitution, an ever-increasing drumbeat of complaints and critical articles about the administration of President Goodluck Jonathan has seen authorities increasingly target journalists and others.

The film focuses on the protests around Jonathan's decision to remove subsidies on gasoline in January 2012. Life in Nigeria ground to a halt before unions backed down. Lawmakers later demanded businesses and government agencies to return $6.7 billion over the subsidy.

"Instead of banning the documentary `Fuelling Poverty,' authorities should look into the important questions it raises about corruption and impunity in the country's oil sector and at the highest levels of government," Mohamed Keita, an official with the Committee to Protect Journalists, said in a statement. "We urge Nigeria's National Film and Video Censors Board to overturn this censorship order."

The move to ban the film comes as Jonathan's government, which many voted for believing he would change the engrained interests and corruption of Nigeria's government, has grown increasingly unpopular as extremists carry out bombings and the state-run power company cannot offer stable electricity. During the strikes, government officials put increasing pressure on broadcasters not to show images of protests, which at one point saw tens of thousands in the streets of Lagos.

Today, journalists at a newspaper face forgery charges over a story that claimed the presidency would try to disrupt opposition parties. Security agencies have harassed reporters at a weekly newspaper that wrote about abuses by the military in its crackdown against Islamic extremists. And workers who ran a call-in radio show in the northern city of Kano face charges over talking about rumors surrounding polio vaccinations in the wake of at least nine women vaccinators being killed.

Despite the outcry, however, the apparent crackdown continues, only fueling more of the same apathy for Nigeria's government seen by those featured in the documentary.

"We don't have government. It's a whole big banana republic," barber Emmanuel Tom Ekin says in the film. "They've been coming telling us story all the time, deceiving us. And right now, in our faces, they are still deceiving us."


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