The Nigerian Broadcasting Commission has ordered television and radio stations not to broadcast “details” of bandit, terrorist, and kidnapping actions in their reporting.
During their daily Newspaper Reviews, the regulator expressly instructed radio and television stations not to “glamourize the evil operations of rebels.” Broadcast stations in Nigeria have an unwritten tradition of reviewing newspaper headlines daily before their morning programmes.
However, in a letter to television and radio stations dated July 7, 2021, the NBC emphasized the need for “caution” by broadcasters when reporting on security concerns in the country.
The letter titled, ‘Newspaper Reviews And Current Affairs Programmes: A Need For Caution’, was signed by the Director, Broadcast Monitoring, Francisca Aiyetan, on behalf of the new Director-General of the Commission, Balarabe Ilelah.
A copy of the letter obtained by The PUNCH, partly reads, “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.
“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 Commission also reminded the broadcast stations to be guided by provisions of Sections 5.4.1(f) and 5.4.3 of the NBC Code which states thus:
“The broadcaster shall not transmit divisive materials that may threaten or compromise the divisibility and indissolubility of Nigeria as a sovereign state.
“In reporting conflict situations, the broadcaster shall perform the role of a peace agent by adhering to the principle of responsibility, accuracy and neutrality.”
Nigeria has been fighting insurgency for over a decade, particularly in the north-eastern section of the country. The Nigerian Army and the Presidency have stated that Boko Haram and its splinter organization, the Islamic State in West Africa Province, have been crushed on several occasions, but the marauders continue to strike with unbelievable savagery and guts. Since 2009, rebels have killed almost 350,000 women, children, and farmers in Borno, Yobe, and Adamawa, among other violent areas, according to Global Conflict Tracker.
On the other hand, the President’s regime, led by Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.) and his Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, has recently attempted to stifle the press in Nigeria by pressuring the National Assembly to amend the Nigeria Press Council Act and the National Broadcasting Commission Act, which has been fiercely opposed by media stakeholders.
On June 4, 2021, the Federal Government announced the suspension of Twitter in Nigeria, alleging “the ongoing use of the site for actions that are capable of damaging Nigeria’s corporate existence.”