Following steps to regulate the Social Media, it has been reported that media chiefs in the country have said the media won’t be bulged by the directive of the Federal Government that the media should not divulge “details” of the activities of bandits, terrorists and kidnappers in their reports.
This was reportedly disclosed by the President of the Nigerian Guild of Editors, Mustapha Isah; the National President of the Nigeria Union of Journalists, Chris Isiguzo; and the Executive Director, Centre for Media Law and Advocacy, Richard Akinnola.
According to them, NBC, in a letter dated July 7, 2021, issued to television and radio stations, stressed the need for “caution” by broadcasters while reporting security challenges in the country.
They made it known that it was contained in a letter titled, ‘Newspaper Reviews And Current Affairs Programmes: A Need For Caution’, and signed by the Director, Broadcast Monitoring, Francisca Aiyetan, on behalf of the new Director-General of the Commission, Balarabe Ilelah.
The letter read that, “Headlines of most newspapers on a daily basis are replete with security topics. While bringing information on security to the doorsteps of Nigerians is a necessity, there is a need for caution as too many details may have an adverse implication on the efforts of our security officials who are duty-bound to deal with the insurgency.’
It added that, “The commission, therefore, enjoins broadcasters to collaborate with the government in dealing with the security challenges by; Not glamourising the nefarious activities of insurgents, terrorists, kidnappers, bandits etc.”
“Advising guests and/or analysts on programmes not to polarise the citizenry with divisive rhetoric, in driving home their point. Not giving details of either the security issues or victims of these security challenges so as not to jeopardise the efforts of the Nigerian soldiers and other security agents,” the letter added.
NGE President, Isah while reacting to this, stated that, “The NBC said broadcast stations should not glamourise terrorist activities which I agree with but I have a problem with the issue of ‘don’t report details of attack’. I don’t know what the NBC mean by that. If there is an attack and certain people die, are you saying that I should not report it? If there is an attack and 20 students are kidnapped, are you saying that broadcast platforms should not report the number?”
He added that, “I have not seen any media house report details of a planned operation by the military on bandits and terrorists. The media does not do that for security purposes and I don’t think we will ever do that.”
He opined that, “The government cannot tell us how to do how report. This is why we are clearly against the Nigeria Press Council Act.”
In addition, the NUJ President, made it known that the media space was not compressed in Nigeria under any guise.
According to him, “This latest directive must be reviewed by the commission. The NBC must also ensure that its actions are in line with international best practices and must conform with time-tested models from other nations.”
Meanwhile, Akinnola stated that, “It is quite unfortunate but it is difficult to gag the Nigerian Press going by its history, no matter the extrajudicial means. It is not possible. If the military failed, there is no way any government will succeed.”
He disclosed that, “The government has failed in the aspect of insecurity and this is a subtle effort to cover the inadequacy of the government.”
Buttressing this point, the Socio-Economic Right and Accountability Project, SERAP, has asked the government to withdraw the directive.
SERAP stated that, “We urge President Buhari to instruct the NBC to immediately withdraw its illegal order to TV and radio stations not to divulge “details” of the activities of terrorists and kidnappers in their reports.”
“We’ll sue if this sweeping gag order is not immediately withdrawn,” the group added.