OrderPaperToday- Media stakeholders have called on the government at all tiers and their relevant agencies to make concerted efforts aimed at specifically tracking, investigating and punishing crimes against journalists in Nigeria.
This demand was made at a round-table meeting held in Abuja to mark the 2019 International Day to End Impunity for Crimes Against Journalists, with this year’s theme being “Keeping Safe”.
The event was organised by the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), Italian Agency for Development Cooperation, Centre Against Brutality & For The Safety of Journalists in Africa (CABSOJA), NAPTIP and Safer Media Initiative, in partnership with Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Federal Capital Territory Council.
In his remarks, Mr. Lamine Sow, Senior Education Advisor of UNESCO said “over 1000 journalists have been killed in a decade, in the line of duty.”
He noted that the role of journalists remains critical “in the promotion of democracy, good governance and fostering open and peaceful societies around the world. Attacks on journalists anywhere, therefore, constitute an assault on the very fundamental prerequisites for a society’s progress and development.
“In conflict zones and particularly in politically unstable environments, attacks on journalists have remained high, hence calls for concerted efforts by all stakeholders, particularly the governments, media owners and journalists themselves, to improve safety”.
On his part, the representative of Nigeria Broadcasting Commission (NBC), Mr. Tony Adebayo, urged pressmen to desist from basing their reports on materials that were neither truthful, decent or legal to avoid danger.
Commending the media for the important role it plays in development of the society, he stated, “NBC appreciates what Nigerian journalists go through in carrying out their responsibility. We are aware of the hazards they face, that is why we emphasise to journalists to put into cognizance the decency, legality, truthfulness and honesty in a material.
“However, these days, the common thing is fake news everywhere and we in NBC want journalists to avoid fake news in order to avoid some of the hazards they face. Specifically, the NBC Act, Section 5 (3) says that fake news is prohibited.”
The representative of the Chief of Army Staff, Col. Sadiq Musa, also maintained that the military is ready to adhere to human rights guidelines, while warning its officers to desist from any form of brutality against journalists.
Attended by journalists across different media organisations in Abuja and its environs, the event focused on how journalists can keep themselves safe while discharging their constitutional duties.
In a communiqué signed by all stakeholders at the end of the event, journalists were urged to abide by the Code of Ethics guiding the profession to avoid any dilemma.
The stakeholders also called for a review of the Code of Ethics in Nigeria which they noted has remained the same since 1998.
They also resolved that government at all levels must train security agencies on Press Freedom and safety of journalists.
Furthermore, media houses were advised to adhere to professionalism which is a guarantee for granting and renewal of licence by state regulatory bodies.
While urging the regulatory agencies to enforce sanctions as entrenched in the guidelines, the stakeholders also called on the government to hasten steps for specifically tracking, investigating and punishing crimes against journalists.
Media stakeholders were similarly charged to develop and implement strategies on journalists’ safety, especially as related to coverage of violence or potentially violent events.