The Nigerian Guild of Editors has slammed the statement by the National Broadcasting Commission that journalists were best friends of terrorists and bandits.
According to the group, since journalists have a responsibility to help Nigeria cope with the current threats and consequences of banditry, kidnapping and terrorism in Nigeria, they would continue to be responsible and responsive in their reports.
Recall that the NBC had given a directive, warning journalists, and broadcast organisations in the country against “glamorising and giving too many details on the nefarious activities of terrorists and kidnappers,” in their daily newspaper reviews.
However, in a statement on Wednesday, issued by its President, Mustapha Isah; and General Secretary, Iyobosa Uwugiaren, titled, ‘NGE: Media not disposed to giving terrorists exposure,’ NGE said it would never give the criminals any exposure.
The Guild maintained that the directive was 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 group explained that given the consistent anti-media policies of the NBC in recent times, its members were concerned about what the agency meant, saying they should expansively define what may constitute “too many details,” “glamorising,’’ “divisive rhetoric,’’ and ‘’security issues.”
The statement read: “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 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 Guild added.
Meanwhile, the group reiterated that there were 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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