June 25, 2024

Ribadu, Idris explain role of media in fighting terrorism in Nigeria

Insecurity: NSA alerts of terrorists' recruitment plots using media platforms

By Kingsley Omonobi

The National Security Adviser, Mallam Nuhu Ribadu has alerted media organizations in the country of plots by terrorist groups to boost their membership through dysfunctional information appealing for easy recruitment using media platforms, networking sites, and online propaganda including mainstream and traditional mediums of communication.

“This is a situation that we must jointly combat to attain a safe and peaceful society that will guarantee sustainable socioeconomic development’ he said.

Represented by Major General Adamu Laka, the Coordinator, National Counter Terrorism Centre, the NSA made this known at the opening of a two-day workshop titled ‘Effective Reporting Towards Strengthening Alternatives to Terrorist Ideology.

He said, “Information is power, and I strongly believe this saying. the kind of information we process, and the way and manner we communicate them should be matters of great concern hence information could be functional with positive expectations or dysfunctional with consequences that are negative and life threatening; the media as conveyor belt of information can therefore influence either positively or negatively.

“This training is part of efforts in response to the call of the UN Secretary General’s Plan of Action for member states to develop and implement a national communication strategy, and to ensure the dissemination of positive content across a wide range of media both traditional and digital platforms to counter terrorist appeals and violent extremist narrative. 

‘The press is capable of exercising power in favour of the state or in favour of the enemies of the state. Media practitioners must always be mindful of this in the discharge of their responsibilities in order to expose societal ills and suspicious characters and activities, garnering support for the government to be able to tackle challenges.

“To achieve this, the media practitioners must produce contents that would counter or prevent the appeals of terrorism and other non-state armed groups. Indeed, there is the need for robust media campaigns against terrorism, violent extremism and all other forms of organized crime that are threatening our corporate existence as a country.

“In today’s world, communication is expected to assume development orientation. Media contents can change people’s perception and attitude, galvanize solidarity, mutual trust, patriotism and national cohesion.

‘The media is also expected to mobilize support to government and national security efforts, and strongly help to dissipate ignorance that makes some persons susceptible to terrorist appeals and violent extremism narrative.

Consequently, he said, “In order to remain invaluable in the society, media practitioners must enhance their skills in conflict-sensitive reporting or in peace journalism to effectively process and disseminate functional information in matters of insecurity and conflict situation.

“Such skills will make the media practitioners meet the expectation as valuable contributors to the process of developing a sustainable security culture. 

“The Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) in line with its mandate will continue to support the National Counter Terrorism Centre to collaborate with the media by prompting capacity building of members of the Fourth Estate of the Realm at the national and state levels as part of the objectives of the National Counter Terrorism Strategy 2016, and the National Security Strategy 2019.

Mohammed Idris

In his remarks, the Minister of Information, and National Orientation, Mohammed Idris disclosed that the  media holds an immense power to influence minds, shape narratives, and promote peace.

“In the fight against terrorism, the media can either undermine or bolster our collective efforts to provide alternatives to extremist ideologies. Through your reports, images, and commentaries, you have the unique ability to educate, inform, and inspire resilience among the public.

“Terrorism is not merely a physical threat; it is an ideological battle of the mind with the extremist groups exploiting vulnerabilities, spreading fear, and propagating messages that present them as fighting for a social cause, in order to further their depraved agenda.

“To counter this, we must offer compelling, positive alternatives that resonate with the same audiences targeted by terrorists. Therefore, your reporting plays a pivotal role in this endeavor.

“To achieve this, the media should continue to project successful initiatives and programmes of NCTC and ONSA that counter radicalization as well as the rehabilitation and reintegration of repentant terrorists into the community.

“I will enjoin the Defence Correspondents/Reporters to work closely with security experts, sociologists, psychologists, and community leaders to provide a multi-faceted perspective on terrorism and its alternatives.  Use data and research to back your stories, thereby enhancing credibility and depth.

“At all times, the media should uphold the ethics of journalism by being objective and fair and guard against sensationalism. You must also respect the dignity of victims and affected communities and void language that could be construed as biased or inflammatory.”