NUJ Boss Condemns Violence against Journalists in Nigeria

By Abuchi Onwumelu

The President of the Nigeria Union of Journalists, NUJ, Chief Chris Isiguzo, has commended the Inspector General of Police for initiating a capacity building scheme, especially for its Public Relations Officers.

The Police Public Relations Officers’ Conference, 2019 had “Public Relations Strategies and Communication Skills” as its theme.

Speaking at the opening of a 4-day capacity building for Police Public Relations Officers, in Agulu, Anambra State, the president of NUJ, Chris Isiguzo, said the event was timely and very germane to international best practices in Police duties.

While noting the desire of the Police to expose PR personnel to proper conduct in engaging members of the public on matters bordering on policing and security, Isiguzo commended the initiative and prayed that such regular and periodic events would help in repositioning the Force and enhancing its acceptability by all and sundry.

‘To us in the media, we will like to call for more of such events that will involve media professionals, because the global information crisis in which journalism is being overwhelmed by the narrow self-interests of political and corporate centres of power is felt strongly in in Nigeria, where hate-speech, fake news and abusive exploitation of information technology, are endangering pluralism and democracy,’ he observed.

Isiguzo warned that the democratic process in Nigeria was in danger of being undermined by unscrupulous politicians and the prevalence of false, hateful and divisive information that created fear, ignorance and uncertainty within the public.

‘The future of democratic pluralism and the defence of human rights are dependent on the right of all citizens to receive reliable and useful information. We believe that ethical journalism is the key provider of the information democracy needs to survive,’ he said, while condemning all forms of violence against journalists in Nigeria, as well as attempts to bribe and corrupt the process of journalism and all attempts to manipulate the media for propaganda.

He called on all journalists, in spite of those threats, to redouble their efforts and live up to the values and standards of the profession.

This was even as he called on media professionals, editors and media owners to build professional solidarity and to work together to promote ethics and good governance to confront the information crisis.

He also commended the Inspector General of Police for giving encouragement and support to the framework on Police-Media Relations and Safety of Journalists in Nigeria.

‘The purpose of this framework is to provide an article of cooperation and facilitate cooperation between the parties in the area of the safety of journalists, enhancement of press freedom and deepening of democracy, accountability, transparency and greater societal responsibility.

‘It will also enable the Police and Media to have an understanding and appreciation of each other’s role to enhance mutual respect. We are happy the present IGP has encouraged this, through the Police Public Relations Department. I am sure many of the officers seated here have attended some of our conferences on this and we hope this will continue for the mutual benefit of our respective organizations,’ Isiguzo observed.

He said it would provide timely information to Journalists by the Police to enable them to meet deadlines and reduce the tendency of the media publishing one-sided stories on the force and encourage factual and professional reporting of police activities, which, he said, would enhance a positive perception of the Force.

Isiguzo also noted that it would give prominence to the actions of a few bad eggs. Noting that generalization could exacerbate poor relations, he said the framework would continue to encourage journalists to operate according to international best practices.

Speaking on why they chose Anambra for the all-important conference, the Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Anambra State Command, SP Haruna Mohammed, said after careful observation and deliberation, they decided to pick Anambra ahead of other states because Anambra was peaceful and hospitable.

The Anambra State police Command image maker was on ground to receive his colleagues from all the 36 states of the federation, including the FCT, Abuja.

Fides reports that the occasion attracted people from all walks of life notable among whom were the Governor of Anambra State, Chief Willie Obiano; the Inspector General of Police, IGP Mohammed Abubakar Adamu, who was represented by the Assistant-Inspector General of Police, AIG Baba Tijjani; the Commissioner of Police, Anambra State, CP John B. Abang; the Police Public Relations Officer, Force Headquarters, Abuja, Mr. Frank Mba; the National President of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Chief Chris Isiguzo; the National President of the Nigeria Institute of Public Relations (NIPR), Mr. Mukhtar Sirajo; the first female professor of Mass Communication in the Sub-Sahara Africa, Professor Chinyere Stella Okunna (Immediate past Dean, Faculty of Social Sciences, UNIZIK); the Chairman of the NUJ, NUJ, Anambra State Council, Sir Emma Ifesinachi; the Secretary, Mr. Emma Udeagha; among others.