Tolerance after Nigerian TV stations demand to restrict reporting on security concerns | Nigeria
Nigeria’s broadcasting regulator has asked TV stations to limit their reporting on growing insecurity in the country and not to give details of the incidents and the victims, a move widely criticized by the country’s media and groups. of civil society.
In a letter sent to broadcasters nationwide, the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) said TV stations should refrain from “giving details of any security issues or the victims of those security issues,” and that they should “work with government to address security challenges” by mitigating reports and comments.
The letter, which was published earlier this month but has come to light in recent days, comes amid deep frustration around Nigeria over the scale of growing insecurity and fears that the freedoms of the limited press from being eroded by the government.
Africa’s most populous country faces multiple security crises in both northwest and central regions suffering an unprecedented wave of mass kidnappings of schoolchildren, kidnappings for ransom and killings perpetrated by armed groups called “bandits”. Fears have also grown that jihadist activity is on the rise, spreading from the northeast where a 12-year jihadist insurgency is raging.
Fisayo Soyombo, editor of the Foundation for Investigative Journalism in Nigeria, said the letter showed “the government’s contempt for press freedom”.
“This is not only undemocratic but utterly absurd,” he said, the government “unable to accommodate any criticism”.
“A responsible government would be busy strategizing against insurgents and bandits, but ours wants the easy way out, which is to silence the media. “
The bandits operated with relative freedom from the security of forest refuges spanning the Niger and the Sahel. In the latest incident revealing the escalating threat from the groups, the Nigerian Air Force said on Monday that a fighter jet was shot down by “heavy gunfire on the ground by bandits” in Zamfara state , in northwestern Nigeria. The pilot “luckily” survived after successfully ejecting from the plane, a spokesperson said.
In the southeast, attacks blamed on pro-Biafra militants have escalated, killing dozens of police officers, while kidnappings for ransom and armed robberies have increased in many parts of the country.
The economy also experienced one of its worst periods in decades, with two recessions in the past five years and soaring unemployment.
Accusations of repression against the media and criticism of the government have also increased, midway into the second presidential term of former military general Muhammadu Buhari. Lawmakers from Buhari’s All Progressives Congress party last month proposed an amendment allowing the government to determine a code of conduct for Nigerian news agencies and journalists, who could be fined and prosecuted for “fake news” and other code violations.
Media organizations have called the amendment and other measures proposed to crack down on social media companies in recent months an “attack on free speech,” after Twitter was banned in early June.
“The attack on the media and on freedom of expression has intensified in recent years,” said Idayat Hassan, director of the Center for Democracy and Development. “And it seems endless as we have witnessed the two new bills intended to further regulate us. There is a complete assault on online and mainstream media: and there is no end in sight. “