The National Broadcasting Commission has barred television and radio stations in Nigeria from divulging “details” of the activities of bandits, terrorists, and kidnappers in their reports.
NBC, in a statement specifically directed radio and television stations not to “glamourise the nefarious activities of insurgents” during their daily newspaper reviews.
Many of the broadcast stations in the country make newspaper headlines review parts of their daily programmes.
However, according to a letter dated July 7, 2021, issued to television and radio stations, the regulator called 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, “Headlines of most Newspapers daily 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.”
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.
The federal government has rolled out a cocktail of policies, which critics say could affect freedom of expression in the country.
This includes the prodding of 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.”