Journalists’ involvement in partisan politics, fake news spread, threat to Nigeria’s democracy, nationhood – Canada-based Group

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Mr. Waheed Seriki, President, Battles Against Corruption in Nigeria Group, Ontario, Canada.

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“While I believe freedom of press is not negotiable and must be protected at all times, it must be done in a professional and sincere way.  Nigerian journalists should realise that freedom of press is different from freedom of lies or misinformation of public.  In fact, publication of false story by journalists is an abuse of the freedom of the press and misuse of the freedom given to the journalists.

 

The continued involvement of Nigerian journalists compromising the noble profession of journalism in their spread of fake news due to deliberate sabotage or unverified information, in a way that has now obvious peaked in the escalated killings of innocent Muslims and Hausa/Fulani in Jos and its environs on claim of retaliating the Barkin Ladi killings, has been described as big threat to continued existence of Nigeria as a nation.

This worry is that of Battles Against Corruption in Nigeria Group (BACN), which was contained in its message to The DEFENDER on Monday, signed by its President, Mr. Waheed Seriki.

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According to the message sent from the Ontario capital city of Canada, BACN reminded Nigerian journalists of their responsibility as “fourth tier of government”, which confers on them the duty to serve and protect lives and property in the country through the use of their pen.  It then warned the pen professioners against doing the otherwise for whatever personal reason or any ulterior motives other than proven national interest.

The 11,000-member anti-corruption group told the Nigerian journalists that they should be on the vanguard of proudable Nigerianism as custodian of workable Nigerian democracy, rather than involving themselves in the business of helping Nigerians who are enemies of Nigeria spread and activate their evil plans for the country.

In helping those it called the enemies of Nigerians among Nigerians spread by publishing or broadcasting their fake news, dangerous rumours, negative and destructive information across the land when they know how fast fake news can cause chaos to setback the progress being made in the country, the group reminded the media practitioners that when consequences eventually come, not only the President Buhari they are conspiring against but they themselves will be part of the beneficiaries, even “the makers of the bad situation will have the larger share.”

President of BACN, Waheed Seriki said in the message, “The recent involvement of some Nigerian journalists in publishing distorted and fake news is becoming dangerous to the law and order in the country, and continued existence of Nigeria as a nation.  And the publication of such false stories by some media houses on June 25, containing admission of responsibility of the killings and massacre of more than 100 innocent citizens in Plateau State by the North Central leader of cattle breeders’ organization is not acceptable and it is a disgrace to the Nigeria and the journalism community in the country,” he said.

Continuing he said, “The false story not only energized already tensed situation but also led to more loss of lives and property.  Journalists must do thorough investigations before they publish any news or information in order to prevent avoidable crisis that may result in the loss of lives and properties in the country.

“They should see themselves as an intermediary between the government and the public most especially in the dispensation of information to the public because they are the ones that pass messages from government to the citizens.  Also, the citizens depend and rely on them for honest, accurate and sincere story not junk news.

“Those journalists that involved in the misinformation of public should be sanctioned by Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ) because their action is more or less deliberate intention to sacrifice the unity and peaceful coexistence of Nigeria as a nation for their political and religious masters’ interests.

“While I believe freedom of press is not negotiable and must be protected at all times, it must be done in a professional and sincere way.  Nigerian journalists should realise that freedom of press is different from freedom of lies or misinformation of public.  In fact, publication of false story by journalists is an abuse of the freedom of the press and misuse of the freedom given to the journalists.

“Any journalist that reports or media house that publishes or broadcasts lies or distorted information has already deviated from his or her freedom of speech to criminal offence, most especially if the outcome of the publication or broadcast of such false news result in loss of lives and property.

“Some journalists in Nigeria are now been used by politicians to publish fake news so as to discredit the government.  This kind of attitude to the profession is putting the lives of innocent citizens at risk because fake news can sometimes result in unrest and destabilisation of the country, which may lead to loss of lives and property.

“Nigerian Union of Journalists needs to clampdown on its members misleading the public and aggravating already tensed atmosphere in the country, doing so in the interest of innocent citizens and to protect the dignity of journalism profession in Nigeria.  The earlier the Nigerian Union of Journalist to correct the unprofessional behavior of some of its members the better for stability and unity of Nigeria, most especially at this time the 2019 election is around the corner,” demanded Battles Against Corruption in Nigeria Group.


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