Mustapha Isa, President, Nigeria Guild of Editors, NGE, has said the directive from the National Broadcasting Commission, NBC, censoring report and review of terrorist attacks and victims across the country was vague.
Isah added that editors and security agencies have mutual interests, noting that “too much” would have been better explained in a confidential meeting.
“Therefore,” he said, “the directive is vague. They should have given instances of where we had glamourised attacks, which would have explained their directive.”
The NGE President said this on Channels TV’s Sunrise Daily on Monday morning.
In the same programme, Offiong Offiong(SAN) said the editors should file legal proceedings to seek an explanation from NBC on what they mean by the directive.
Also, a former director of DSS, Mike Ejiorfor, said: “I smell a rat. The NBC directive must be a smokescreen. They must be targeting a particular media house.”
He, however, said what NBC should be doing is engaging the editors, rather than issuing directives.
Speaking further, Isah, the NGE President said: “The media report events and do not create the stories. If attacks don’t happen, the media won’t report them. The media serve the public.
“I am against ethnic profiling of criminals. But serving regional interests is allowed. If any such report offends anyone or group, the opposing interests can also seat for a face-off and let the viewers decide who is right or wrong.
“Therefore, it is the security agencies that should have invited us for a confidential briefing and we would know where we stand.
“We have mutual interests— the security agencies and editors. There are things we leave out of reports.
“The media ought to be free. If you take away that freedom, what we would have is just public relations.”
The NBC directive
NBC, in a letter dated July 7, by the Director, Broadcast Monitoring, Francis Aiyetan, on behalf of the Director-General, asked stations to stop “glamourising the activities of insurgents, terrorists, kidnappers, bandits.”
It said: “While bringing information on security to the doorsteps of Nigerians is a necessity, there is a need for caution.”
However, the letter stated, “some of the topics also have ethnological coating thereby, pitching one section of the country against the other and leaving Nigerians in daily hysteria.”
Aiyetan also cautioned “guests and/or analysts on programmes not to polarise the citizenry with divisive rhetoric, in driving home their point.”
She tasked 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.”