The National Broadcasting Commission has ordered television and radio stations in Nigeria not to divulge “details” of the activities of bandits, terrorists and kidnappers in their reports.
The regulator specifically directed radio and television stations not to “glamourise the nefarious activities of insurgents” during their daily newspaper reviews. As an unwritten custom, broadcast stations in Nigeria review newspaper headlines daily before their breakfast shows.
But the 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.
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.
The letter reads in part: “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 rhetorics, 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 indivisibility 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.”
For over a decade, Nigeria has been grappling with insurgency, especially in the North-Eastern part of the West African nation. At various times, the Nigerian Army and the Presidency had claimed that Boko Haram fighters and those of its splinter group, the Islamic State in West Africa Province, had been defeated but the marauders continue to strike with crude savagery and unimaginable guts.
According to Global Conflict Tracker, the insurgents have killed nearly 350,000 innocent women, children and farmers in Borno, Yobe, Adamawa, amongst other volatile places, since 2009.
On the other hand, the regime of President Muhammadu Buhari, through the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, has in recent times, attempted to muzzle the press in Nigeria by prodding the National Assembly to amend the Nigeria Press Council Act and the National Broadcasting Commission Act, one that has been fiercely opposed by media stakeholders who have described the move as an information blackout akin to the infamous Protection Against False Accusations Decree, otherwise known as Decree 4 of 1984.
The Federal Government had also announced the suspension of Twitter in Nigeria on June 4, 2021, citing “the persistent use of the platform for activities that are capable of undermining Nigeria’s corporate existence.”