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SERAP issues 24-hour ultimatum to Buhari over NBC directive on terrorism reporting

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THE Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has urged Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari to withdraw a directive by the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) warning journalists and broadcast stations against ‘glamourising’ details on terrorism activities.

This was contained in a series of tweets made by SERAP on its official Twitter handle on Sunday, in reaction to the NBC directive.

In a letter sent to the president, SERAP described reports on terrorist attacks as a matter of public interest, stating that the directive, coupled with the likelihood of punishment, would hinder the government’s accountability to the public.

“The broad definitions of what may constitute ‘too many details,’ ‘glamourising’ and ‘divisive rhetoric’ heighten concerns of overreach, confer far-reaching discretion, and suggest that the directive is more intrusive than necessary,” it read.

A letter had been issued by the NBC on July 7, warning broadcasters against amplifying the nefarious activities of terrorists and kidnappers within the country.

The letter signed by the Director of Broadcast Monitoring Francisca Aiyetan urged broadcasters to avoid giving details on security issues or victims of insecurity so as not to jeopardise efforts being made by security operatives within the country.

“The National Broadcasting Commission wishes to draw attention to critical issues arising from Review of Newspapers by Broadcast Stations daily,” she said.

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Aiyetan also noted that some of the reports had ethnological coating which could have divisive effects on the country, leaving Nigerians in a state of hysteria.

The letter reminded broadcast stations to abide by the provisions of sections 5.4.1(f) and 5.4.3 of the NB Code, which stated that “The broadcaster shall not transmit divisive materials that might threaten or compromise the indivisibility 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.”

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Ijeoma Opara is a journalist with The ICIR. Reach her via vopara@icirnigeria.org

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