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Media not supporting terrorists, says NGE, cautions NBC against ‘consistent anti-media policies’

By IHECHUKWU SUNDAY

The Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE) has frowned at the “terrible” suggestion by the Nigerian Broadcasting Commission (NBC) that, by reporting the activities of terrorists and bandits, Nigerian journalists have become friends with terrorists and bandits, excoriating such “inane” insinuation as unhelpful, but assuring that journalists, by their training and orientation, would never give “the bloodthirsty criminals” any undue exposure but would continue to report all criminal activities in the country responsibly.

In a statement signed and released earlier today by NGE’s President, Mustapha Isah and General Secretary, Iyobosa Uwugiaren, the association of all Editors in Nigeria expressed concern at the recent directive by the NBC to journalists, television and radio stations in Nigeria, against “glamourising and giving too many details of the nefarious activities of terrorists and kidnappers during daily newspaper reviews.”

In the directive titled “Newspaper Reviews And Current Affairs Programmes: A Need For Caution’’, signed by the Director, Broadcast Monitoring, Francisca Aiyetan, on behalf of the new Director-General of the Commission, Balarabe IIeah, the regulatory agency had cautioned broadcasters against “glamourising and giving too many details of the nefarious activities of terrorists and kidnappers during their daily newspaper reviews.”

But, describing the directive as “unhelpful”, the NGE warned that it was “a subtle threat to free press, freedom of expression, access to information and victims’ right to justice, which are essential to public debate and accountability in a democratic space.”

The Guild added that giving the consistent anti-media rhetoric of NBC in recent time, Nigerian Editors were at pains to understand what, in the estimation of the Commission, may constitute ‘too many details’, ‘glamourising’, ‘divisive rhetoric’, and ‘security issues’ in its directive.

‘’We hope it is not a ploy by the NBC to ban newspaper review by broadcasting stations. Because, the content of the directive doesn’t specify what kind of conduct would fall within their realm. It is our view that the role of independent, critical, and trustworthy journalism has never been more important than now in our country,’’ the Guild declared, adding that the Nigerian media “are very mindful of their responsibility in the current collective efforts to address the security challenges in the country”, and that “the relationship between the security agencies and the media has been more respectful and trustful along this mission in the past few years.”

“While we are mindful of our responsibility at this trying moment of our nation, we must also not lose ability to see that security, in a democratic nation, is not an end in itself,” the NGE stressed.

‘’Its single purpose is to protect the capability of institutions, including the media, to guarantee citizens the free exercise of their fundamental human rights, without discrimination.

‘’History has revealed time and again that efforts to increase security through the clampdown on liberty and freedom have threatened both liberty and security.”

According to the NGE, while there is no security without free media and free expression, and no free expression and free media without security, there ought not to be any conflict between these two terms, rather both should work hand in hand in the overall interest of the nation.

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