Nigeria’s broadcast regulator, National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), has cautioned broadcasting stations in the country to desist from giving detailed reports of armed conflicts spreading across the country.
The NBC said this in a letter dated Wednesday, July 7, 2021, and signed by Francisca Aiyetan, Director of Broadcast Monitoring on behalf of Balarabe Ilelah, the new Director-General of NBC.
In the letter, the NBC expressly cautioned radio and television stations against divulging “too much” information about armed conflicts to the general public as it may “have an adverse implication on the efforts of our security officials who are duty-bound to deal with the insurgency.”
Nigeria is battling a 12-year-old Boko Haram insurgency that has left a devastating humanitarian crisis in the northeast with thousands of people killed and more than two million displaced.
For that, the Commission called on broadcasters to “collaborate” with the Nigerian Government in combating insecurity by “not glamourising the nefarious activities of insurgents, terrorists, kidnappers, bandits etc.”
The regulatory body also enjoined the broadcast media to advise “guests and/or analysts on programmes” to drive their points home without inciting Nigerians against themselves.
According to the letter, providing details of security issues and victims of security challenges may foil counter-terrorism measures of security agents.
Quoting Sections 5.4.1(f) and 5.4.3 of the NBC Code, the Commission reminded broadcasters of some rules that guide against “transmitting 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.”
The warning comes amidst moves by the Nigerian Government to regulate the media in a flurry of amendment bills that have been contested by civic bodies.
On June 17, the House of Representatives proposed an amendment to the Nigerian Press Council (NPC) Act that introduces a national press code which will guide the conduct of media practitioners with the approval of the information minister.
If the bill sails through, the information minister will become more powerful and the regulatory bodies will be able to levy heavier penalties on the media.
In June, the government blocked access to Twitter in the country after Nigerian President Muhammad Buhari’s tweet, deemed divisive and genocidal, was deleted for violating Twitter’s policy.
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