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Collaboration For Peace: PTCIJ Brings Nigerian Security, Media Actors To Roundtable

The dialogue, which was attended by various security spokespersons, editors, conflict reporters, and members of the academia, was geared towards improving trust and understanding.

Media practitioners, security experts and officers, and researchers gathered at the bidding of the Premium Times Centre of Investigative Journalism (PTCIJ) for a roundtable discussion in Abuja on Thursday.

The event, which was supported by Free Press Unlimited, focused on strengthening collaboration between media and security actors towards ensuring social peace.

PTCIJ Executive Director, Dapo Olorunyomi, giving his opening remarks, noted that there would inevitably be areas of conflict as security personnel went about their duties of ensuring peace while journalists fulfilled their obligation to hold institutions of power accountable.

“You can’t be in this country and not be sorry about how things are going … The idea is for us to sit together and think about this and work out pathways and fresh means of engagement,” he said.

The dialogue was intended to improve relations between the two groups, improve the quality of conflict and security reporting in Nigeria, as well as lead to a better understanding of such concepts as “national security” and “national interest” as they relate to the work of journalists.

Some of those in attendance were the First Secretary at the Netherlands Embassy in Nigeria, Cornelia Looije; Director Defence Information (DDI) Maj.-Gen. Benjamin Sawyerr; Nigerian Air Force spokesperson Air Commodore Edward Gabkwet; and former army spokesperson General Sani Kukasheka Usman (retd).

The journalists and media executives included Premium Times Editor-in-Chief Musikilu Mojeed; Daily Trust Editor Hamza Idris; Chief Executive Officer at Yerwa Express Abdulhamid Al-Gazali, Director of News at Arise News Sumner Sambo; Head of Defence\Security Affairs at Guardian Nigeria Sunday Odita; Arise News presenter Amaka Okoye; Premium Times multimedia journalist Titilope Fadare; ICIR investigative reporter Lukman Abolade; and HumAngle Investigations Editor ‘Kunle Adebajo.

Also in attendance were researcher and senior lecturer at the University of Maiduguri, Dr Yagana Bukar and Professors Olawale Albert and Adesina Afolayan of the University of Ibadan. The dialogue was moderated by broadcaster and investigative journalist Ejiro Umukoro.

The participants agreed there was a trust deficit between the media and security sector, pointed out shortcomings on either side, and recommended ways through which smoother interactions could be fostered. Some of the suggestions included embedding more journalists at the war theatre, training journalists to better understand how military structures operate, encouraging context analysis in reports, proactive disclosure and accountability on the part of security agencies, as well as ensuring there is mutual respect during interactions.

The investigative journalism centre had, in July, held a workshop to build the capacity of media practitioners to report conflict issues in Nigeria.

PTCIJ Programme Director Oluwatosin Alagbe assured the participants that the dialogue yesterday was not a one-off event as more are needed to continue to promote better working relations between the various actors for the sake of peace.

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'Kunle Adebajo

Head of Investigations at HumAngle. ‘Kunle covers conflict alongside its many intricacies and fallouts. He also writes about disinformation, the environment, and human rights. He's won a couple of journalism awards, including the 2021 Wole Soyinka Award for Investigative Journalism, the 2022 African Fact-checking Award, and the 2023 Michael Elliott Award for Excellence in African Storytelling.

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