FIC Report (Abia State) – The Nigerian Press Council (NPC) in collaboration with Forte and Heinz Limited organised a Workshop on the Role of the Media in Combating Violent Extremism and Terrorism in Nigeria.
The Workshop attended by Journalists from the five States in the South East Zone of the country was aimed at Training the Participants on how the Media through their reportage can combat terrorism in Nigeria.
Abia State Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Barr. Eze Chikamnayo, declared the workshop open at Rapha Hotels and Suite.
The Governor of Abia State, Okezie Victor Ikpeazu(PhD) maintained that Abia has remained one of the most peaceful and safest States in Nigeria, amidst all the current security challenges in South – East region of the country.
The Governor who was represented by the Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Barr. Eze Chikamnayo made this known during the official opening of the Workshop that Governor Ikpeazu has done well in handling the security challenges in the State.
Abia sits at the heart of and connects all the South – East and South – South States, and under different circumstances could easily become a melting point for crime and chaos.
However, Abia has remained peaceful and the reason for this is not far fetched.
Governor Okezie Victor Ikpeazu on assuming office in 2015, made it clear that the security of the lives and properties of Abians is his paramount goal and thus, started by equipping all the security agencies in the State.
The building of the ultramodern Zone 9 Police Headquarters, the building of residential quarters for security heads, and continuous and timely donation of operational vehicles to the security agencies in the State, are all indications that Abia is in safe hands.
In addition to these, Governor Okezie Victor Ikpeazu, also established the new Ministry of Homeland Security, to monitor closely and to check insecurity in rural areas across Abia, especially in areas other security agencies would normally find hard to reach.
This novel strategy has led to the systemic reduction and total elimination of attacks by bandits on farmlands in hinterlands across Abia State.
Furthermore, this Ministry has provided 500 Abia Youths employment and the noble opportunity to help in the fight against crime and banditry in the State.
The Governor urged Journalists and media Practitioners within and beyond the State to show professionalism in reporting security issues and not to allow sentiments to drive them.
Journalists must see themselves as the chief marketers of our dear country Nigeria and ensure that their reportage are anabolic and not catabolic. Journalism is a very sensitive job as they are responsible for the actions of the many Nigerians who rely on them to stay informed.
He therefore charged Journalists to see that their words and actions lead to the general growth of Nigeria and not to it’s mutilation, and breakdown.
Welcoming the Participants, the Executive Secretary of NPC, Mr. Francis N. Nwosu, said the concern of the Council was not on why the media cover or report terrorism but how they report or cover it.
Nwosu added that the Workshop was aimed at enhancing the instrumentality and capacity of media Professionals on how to report, especially in a multi-ethnic country like Nigeria and to seek how the media could report on how the activities of terrorists could be mitigated.
At the end of the workshop, it was resolved as follows:
1. That the Media has a crucial role to play in combating violent extremism and terrorism in the country through their reportage
2. That to achieve this goal, media Professionals must be guided by the ethics of the profession by presenting balanced, unbiased and factual news reports and analysis, devoid of sensationalism and stereotyping
3. That media Professionals, as a matter of responsibility, should strive to use official, credible and trusted sources of information while reporting terrorism
4. That Media Professionals should be in the forefront of promoting peace journalism in the country by publishing news reports and analysis that discourage violent extremism and terrorism but emphasize on peace and unity of the country.
5. That since media reports embolden terrorists, the media should reduce the attention given to terrorists and terrorist activities in their reportage. In other words, the media should stop giving undue publicity to terrorism and terrorist activities; as well as types of coverage that may portray media as accomplices of terrorists
6. That the media should employ their professional skills in maintaining the delicate balance between the Public’s right to know and National interest to avoid setting the country on fire
7. That the media must stop making itself an asset for the terrorists by shifting from the current drive for Breaking News to prioritizing public safety and National interest and responsible journalism
8. That the media should be very careful in publishing reports in order not to wittingly or unwittingly help extremists or terrorists to achieve their primary goal of spreading fear and sowing the seed of discord among the people or communities in the country
9. That the media, as a means of countering terrorism, should engage in confidence and solution building through its reportage
10. That there is the need for improved networking among media houses/professionals on the one hand and the media with other stakeholders, particularly, the security agencies to tame escalating terrorism in the country
11. That Journalists covering terrorism should be mandatorily equipped with adequate resources to enhance networking among journalists working in their line of duty
12. That there is need to expose Journalists to adequate training on contemporary terrorism and its dynamics to enable them to report intelligently and the use of ICT to report terrorism, as well as general media literacy.
13. That the media should begin to use its power to sensitize the public on terrorists’ attacks, security measures and how to react in case of terror attacks.
14. That the risky nature of their job, and given the fact that they render great services to the nation and society, Journalists in Nigeria should enjoy enviable welfare packages, including robust insurance policy so that in the event of death in the line of duty, the family of the Journalist will not suffer.
15. The participants commended the Nigerian Press Council for organising the knowledge enriching Workshop.
The Workshop attracted a former Executive Secretary,Nigeria Press Council ,Mr Nnamdi Njemanze , Dr Jude Ogbodo of the Department of Mass Communication, Ebonyi State University, Abakalaiki, Prof, Sunny Emmanuel Udeze of Enugu State University, and Dr Ifeanyi Didiugwu of ESUT as Presenters