By Chinelo Obogo
Radio and television stations in Nigeria have been ordered by the Federal Government to henceforth, cease from reporting details of attacks by bandits and terrorists.
In a letter titled ‘Newspaper Reviews And Current Affairs Programmes: A Need For Caution’, dated July 7, 2021 and signed by Francisca Aiyetan on behalf of Balarabe Ilelah,
the Director General of the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), the broadcast regulatory agency said that going forward, stations should also desist from naming victims of such attacks in order not to “glamourise the nefarious activities of insurgents, bandits and kidnappers ” in their reports.
The commission advised broadcasters to apply caution in their reportage, saying that divulging too many details may have an adverse effect on the efforts of the Nigerian security agencies.
The commission claimed that some of the topics discussed during newspaper reviews have “ethnological coating which pitches one section of the country against the other and leaving Nigerians in daily hysteria.”
It asked broadcast stations to be guided by provisions of sections 5.4.1(f) and 5.4.3 of the NBC Code which states: “The broadcaster shall not transmit 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.”
“Headlines of most newspapers on a daily basis are replete with security topics. While bringing information on security to the doorsteps of Nigerians is a necessity, there is a need for caution as too many details may have an adverse implication on the efforts of our security officials who are duty-bound to deal with the insurgency.
“The commission, therefore, enjoins broadcasters to collaborate with the government in dealing with the security challenges by not glamourising the nefarious activities of insurgents, terrorists, kidnappers, bandits etc.
“Advising guests and/or analysts on programmes not to polarise the citizenry with divisive rhetoric, in driving home their point. Not giving 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 letter read.
According to a report by SBM Intelligence, a total of 2371 people were abducted in Nigeria between January and June of 2021 with N10 billion demanded as ransom for victims.
The report stated that an average of 13 persons were abducted daily in the country within the period across the 36 states of the federation and the federal capital territory (FCT).
The data was derived from media reports and the national security tracker of the Council of Foreign Relations, though the report did not state the total amount paid for ransom. About 605 victims were kidnapped in February and in March, 534 were kidnapped. In May 355 persons were kidnapped, while in April, 316 were affected. January had 284 while in June, there were 277.
The report showed that Niger state recorded the highest number of abducted persons with 643 victims in 28 kidnap cases, while 58 people were killed during the abductions. Zamfara State came second with 519 kidnap victims in seven incidents, leading to the deaths of 22 people, while Kaduna state recorded 360 kidnap victims in 26 incidents, leading to the deaths of 41 persons.
The most targets in the abductions that took place in the first half of 2021 were schools where hundreds of students taken hostage in the north-west.
Six persons were kidnapped in Abia State had six victims while in Abuja, 50 persons were abducted.  Adamawa had three, Anambra 14, Bauchi, three, Bayelsa, Seven, Benue, six, Borno, one, Cross River, four, Delta 51, Ebonyi, five, Edo,18, Ekiti, 14, Enugu, 15, Gombe, one, Imo, 25, Jigawa, two, Kano, three, Katsina, 236, Kebbi, 81, Kogi, 31, Kwara, 10, Lagos, six, Nasarawa, 44, Ogun, 26, Ondo, 17, Osun, 23, Oyo 61, Plateau, 10, Rivers, 14, Sokoto, 10, Taraba, 46, and Yobe, four.