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We won’t stop reporting terrorist attacks-Media veterans to NBC

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Nigerian media chiefs have said the media won’t be daunted 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.

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; made this known in  an interview with The Punch.

According to them, the media reports activities and does not create events.

The media veterans made this known while reacting to an order by the National Broadcasting Commission that television and radio stations in Nigeria should not “glamourise the nefarious activities of insurgents” during their daily newspaper reviews.

In his reaction, NGE President, Isah said he agreed with the NBC that broadcast stations should not glamourise the activities of insurgents but stated emphatically that the government could not tell the media how to tailor its reports.

Isah said, “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?

“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.

“The government cannot tell us how to do how report. This is why we are clearly against the Nigeria Press Council Act.

“The media does not create events; we report events. If there is a terrorist attack, we will report it. In fact, if we don’t report it, that means we are not doing our job.  We will not stop doing that, we will not stop reporting events despite the threats.”

In the same vein, NUJ President, Isiguzo said the NUJ would ensure that the media space was not compressed in Nigeria under any facade.

He said, “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.”

Akinnola also described the NBC directive as obnoxious and a subtle attempt to gag the press.

Akinnola said, “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.

“The government has failed in the aspect of insecurity and this is a subtle effort to cover the inadequacy of the government.”

The Socio-Economic Right and Accountability Project also criticised the NBC directive, and asked the government to withdraw the directive.

SERAP in a statement posted via its official social media handle @serapnigeria urged the President  Muhammadu Buhari to withdraw the order.

“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.”

 

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