The Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Army, Hon. Abdulrazak Namdas (APC, Adamawa) has said it is high time Nigerians designated terrorists properly and stop identifying them with other nomenclatures such as bandits or gunmen.
Namdas, a former spokesman of the House in the 8th Assembly stated this in Abuja at a two-day capacity building workshop on conflict reporting for journalists organised by the Konrad-Adenaeur Stiftung (KAS), a German foundation, in conjunction with the Premium Times Centre for Investigative Journalism (PTCIJ) said if bandits could shoot down a fighter jet, they are more than bandits.
He opined that it was worrying that the group of criminals, who brought down the Alpha Jet penultimate Sunday in Zamfara State, are still being referred to as bandits.
The two-time legislator noted that, “journalists play critical roles in the fight against insecurity through ethical reportage as agenda setters.
“It is important that the right terms and terminologies are used when reporting or describing any act of terror, attacks or conflict to better inform the people.
“If a bandit can graduate to bringing down a fighter jet and you still call him a bandit then there is a problem. It is the responsibility of the media to report with the correct names because there is no religion, tribalism or party lines in any form of conflict,” he said.
Namdas observed that when one is kidnapped, there is nothing like APC or PDP, so the nation needs to unite and tackle the surging insurgent with one voice.
“As Chairman, House committee on Army, the challenges before us is very enormous in terms of security and all stakeholders must be on board because we cannot resolve insurgency, banditry with kids gloves.
“We felt the need for capacity building with the media because today if you look at some of the terminologies and cliché on who is a bandit, terrorist, cattle rustler, armed robber, you begin to wonder who is giving such names.
“The politicians should not be setting the pace, the media is supposed to set the pace,” he stated.
Namdas also paid tribute to the media, saying that the Nigerian media has been very vibrant from time immemorial as it plays a key role in ending the days of military dictatorship for the democracy being enjoyed today.
Dr. Vladmir Kreck, the Country Representative of KAS Nigeria, in his welcome address stated that conflict reporting remains one of the most difficult fields for journalists to cover with a lot of risks and when not reported correctly, could also escalate crises.
Kreck opined that building the capacity of journalists on how to report the crises situation in the country would also help in the successful fight against insurgents, bandits and other non-state actors.
“One of the objectives of KAS is to promote democratic governance and in Nigeria we have a very large programme on the security sector reforms.
“The House committee on army is one of our most important partners in the support of the security sector reform.
“Conflict reporting is probably the most dangerous jobs for journalists, considering that journalist need to go to the fields to report, to probably risk their lives and threat to their lives.
“At the same time, it is also important to be aware that your sources and contact persons can also be at risk and reports can be written in a way that will escalate conflicts,” he stated.
The country representative further pointed out that media practitioners need to be trained regularly on ethics and guides on effective conflict reporting.
The Executive Director of the PTCIJ, Dapo Olorunyomi, said how well a journalist reported a situation was what would bring professionalism to bare.
“If you look at the country today, it is faced with multiple layers of conflicts that if there is anything we need to do better, is in a way to manage and better report the situation and this really brings our professional skills to bare.
“I hope that colleagues will leave here and try to make further advocacy on the tools that we need even to do things better. In the sense, it is an obligation on government,” he said.
Olorunyomi also urged the Federal Government to consider the initiative Britain and Canada were pushing as regards global media coalition and freedom which aimed at dealing specifically with the rights and safety of journalists.
He said it was disheartening that only Ghana and Cameroon in the sub-region had been able to join the coalition.