No fewer than 40 editors and reporters working in Nigeria converged on Abuja Tuesday to begin talks on how to counter terrorism with responsible journalism.
The media roundtable, organised by the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) in collaboration with the European Union Technical Assistance to Nigeria’s Evolving Security Challenges (EUTANS), will end Wednesday.
The media, said the conveners of the dialogue in their introductory remarks, are often vital to ideological movements that want to disseminate a message. “Since the popularisation of the internet and social media, websites such as Twitter, YouTube and Facebook have all also been engaged by extremist groups to recruit and make propaganda,” they stated. “Governments worldwide are now increasingly aware that countering violent extremism involves consideration of the multiple platforms on which extremist messages can be spread.”
EUTANS was represented by media experts Elizabeth Pearson, Kayode Adebiyi, Jacob Zenn, Pauline Torehall and others, while the ONSA had Ahmad Gusau, Zakari Mijinyawa, Waziri Ibrahim and others.
Among the participants that presented papers on the first day were: Professor Umaru Pate of Bayero University, Kano; Dr Jacob Udo-Udo Jacob of American University, Yola; Dr Freedom Onuoha of National War College; Mansur Liman, editor of BBC Hausa Services; Phil Hazlewood, Nigeria bureau chief of AFP; Isakwe Stephen Omoera of Ambrose Ali University, Ekpoma; Safiya Muhammad Adamu, chairman of the editorial board of LEADERSHIP; Martins Oloja, editor of The Guardian; and Dr Bisi Olawunmi of Bowen University, Iwo, Osun State.
Expected to speak on Wednesday are: Michelle Paul, AP bureau chief in Nigeria; Lanre Idowu of DAME; Kunle Somorin of Total News; Peter Nkanga , Committee to Protect Journalists; Azubuike Ishiekwene, The Interview; Alaka Motunrayo of Wole Soyinka Centre for Investigative Journalism; Tolu Ogunlesi of WOWE Media; and Nnamdi Njemanze of the National Press Council.
Collaboration between ONSA and EUTANS on “Countering Violent Extremism” (CVE) was conceived during the tenure of Col. Sambo Dasuki (rtd) as NSA. A new NSA, Maj.-Gen. Babagana Monguno (rtd.), was appointed in July.
At the end of the conference today, Nigerian media are expected to contribute more to the anti-terror war through better reporting of terrorist activities. The roundtable also seeks to reveal how “extremist groups like Boko Haram exploit the media to radicalise, propagandise and recruit people” as well as build “networks of trust with journalists” and identify “future partners to engage in regular briefings with government”. A communiqué will express that resolve.