Presidency urges media to show more decorum on security matters

Mallam Garba Shehu

The Presidency has appealed to media practitioners to show more decorum and professionalism in the reportage of security and humanitarian matters in the country.

It said the growing lack of respect for journalistic ethics and press laws in the Nigerian media, especially regarding the clashes in Benue State was unfortunate.

Speaking through the Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu yesterday, the presidency, which came hard on the media, said the frequent expressions of hate speeches being published by newspapers, in news stories and especially in columns, were a source of concern.

“We want to state emphatically that a segment of the Nigerian media is sinking deeper and deeper into the mesh of hate speeches, in spite of repeated appeals by recognised and reputable media bodies, the government and concerned Nigerians.    “Unfortunately, self-regulation, which is the norm in civilized societies, has taken flight from many of our newsrooms.

“For instance, a recent column published in a national newspaper , ‘‘President Muhammadu Buhari was the first to endorse the Benue massacre’’ on New Year’s day. The same columnist described the    Minister of Defence, Mansur Muhammad Dan-Ali, as ‘‘a dyed-in-the-wool Fulani irredentist, who places trade over and above human life.

“The diatribe went further to invite citizens of the country to arm themselves and fight each other. In addition, one of the newspaper’s Saturday headlines read: ‘Expect More Blood in Benue.”

“Apart from the basic tone of respect expected from an individual, who is supposedly intelligent and educated enough to know better since they have been granted space to write in a national newspaper, there is the risk of inciting the public to actions that will have dire consequences for the entire nation for generations to come.

Addressing State House Correspondents yesterday, Garba said those beating the gongs of war and fanning the embers of discord must remember what prevailed in Rwanda before the genocide of the early 90s, during which hundreds of thousands of lives were lost as a result of consistent hate speeches spewing from that country’s media.

“We must learn to express our grievances and criticisms without resorting to gutter language or to name calling, and the press has a responsibility to maintain that even if it means calling their columnists to order,” he added.

He said President Buhari has the primary duty of protecting lives and property and that was what he has been doing in Benue and across the country.

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