Nigerian Broadcasting Commission restricts reporting details of insecurity incidents, victims

by Yusuf Akinpelu

Revealing too much details while reporting insecurity in Nigeria may have adverse impact on the efforts of security agencies in tackling the challenges, the Nigerian Broadcasting Commission (NBC)said in a letter to broadcast stations.

The commission noted that, “while bringing information on security to the doorsteps of Nigerians is a necessity, there is a need for caution.”

It said this is because “some of the topics also have ethnological coating thereby, pitching one section of the country against the other and leaving Nigerians in daily hysteria.”

Dated July 7, the letter, which was signed by the director of broadcast monitoring, Francis Aiyetan, on behalf of the commission’s director-general, enjoined the stations to join hands with the government by not “glamorising the activities of insurgents, terrorists, kidnappers, bandits.”

Mrs Aiyetan also said in the letter that broadcast stations should advise “guests and/or analysts on programmes not to polarise the citizenry with divisive rhetoric, in drving home their point.”

She also called on them not to give “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 reminds you to be guided by the provisions of Sections 5.4.1(f) and 5.4.3 of the NBC Code that states:” the letter read.

“The broadcaster shall not transmit divisive materials that may threaten or compromise the indivisibility and indissolubility of Nigeria as a Sovereign state” and “in reporting conflict situations, the broadcaster shall perform the role of a peace agent by adhering to the principle of responsibility, accuracy and neutrality.”

Buhari government’s media censorship

The new directive issued by the NBC comes a blanket move to control the reporting of worsening security situation as increasingly President Muhammadu Buhari faces criticisms for not doing enough to address the problem.

The NBC code has been a major tool the Buhari government uses in its bid to control the content produced by broadcasting stations, with huge fines often awarded against broadcasters considered to have committed a breach of the code.

The development is seen as part of a broader media censorship drive by the government. This is reminiscent of the days of Mr Buhari as a military dictator between 1983 and 1984 when he used decrees to control what the press reported.

Last week, Nigerian media recently launched a campaign against the Buhari government’s brazen attempt to regulate social media and censor the press through controversial media bills at the National Assembly.

The controversial bills are the Nigerian Broadcasting Commission (NBC) and the Nigerian Press Council (NPC) Act amendment bills.

The former sought lawmakers’ cooperation to include “all online media” among the media organisations the government seeks to be able to censor.

The latter gives the president the right to appoint the chairman of the board of the Nigerian Press Council (NPC). It also empowers the president to appoint all other members of the board upon the recommendation of the information minister.

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