ABUJA — The Nigerian Guild of Editors on Wednesday dismissed the statement by the National Broadcasting Commission that journalists were best friends of terrorists and bandits.
The NGE in a statement by its President, Mustapha Isah; and General Secretary, Iyobosa Uwugiaren, titled, ‘NGE: Media not disposed to giving terrorists exposure,’ said it would never be disposed to giving the bloodthirsty criminals any exposure.
The NGE was responding to the recent directive by NBC, which warned journalists, television, and radio stations in Nigeria against “glamorising and giving too many details on the nefarious activities of terrorists and kidnappers,” their daily newspaper reviews.
The organisation said since journalists have a responsibility to help the country cope with the prevailing threat and consequences of banditry, kidnapping, and terrorism in Nigeria, they would continue to be responsible and responsive in their reports.
The NGE described the directive as a subtle threat to free press, freedom of expression, access to information, and victims’ right to justice, which were essential ingredients for public debate and accountability in a democratic space.
The NBC in a 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 glamorising and giving too many details on the nefarious activities of terrorists and kidnappers during their daily newspaper reviews.
The organisation said given the consistent anti-media policy of NBC in recent times, its members were concerned about what the agency meant by the expansive definitions of what may constitute “too many details,” “glamorising,’’ “divisive rhetoric,’’ and ‘’security issues.”
“We hope it is not a ploy by the NBC to ban newspapers review in 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.”
“We must also not lose the ability to see that security, in a democratic nation, is not an end in itself.”
“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,” the statement added.
The NGE stated that the Nigerian media were mindful of their responsibility in the current collective efforts to address the security challenges in the country.
The NGE reiterated that there was no security without free media and free expression, and no free expression and free media without security, saying the two terms should come hand-in-hand and not fight each other in the general interest of the nation.
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