By BASHIR ADEFAKA
The Nigerian media organisations and practitioners have been advised to avoid misleading and provocative headlines and reports, especially as the country enters the new year of 2024.
The advice was given in a new year message signed by the Executive Director of the Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC), Professor Ishaq Akintola, dated Monday 1st January, 2024 and copy of which was sent to The DEFENDER.
The full message said, “As Nigeria enters the new year 2024, we call attention to the need for the media to avoid misleading and provocative headlines and reports.
“A good example is the recent publication by a Nigerian tabloid whose caption read ‘SHOCKING REVELATION: As Sultan of Sokoto Explains why Muslims Killed over 150 Christains were killed in Plateau’
“This is very misleading and provocative. The worst part is that the report is false and the authors know it. The Sultan never made such a statement.
“Interestingly enough, the content of the news did not match the sensational headline. The story only revealed how the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar, affirmed that the recent killings in the Plateau was not driven by religious animosity.
“But the publishers veered off course while giving the story a caption to falsely and maliciously portray the Sultan as admitting that it was Muslims who perpetrated the recent Plateau mayhem. Even the caption itself was full of errors which exposes the low level of the intellect of those behind the story.
“Provocative headlines that do not reflect the real story are very dangerous because most people will only read the captions without reading the real contents. Yet they will base their reaction on the small topic which seen by them.
“MURIC strongly denounces the practice of seeking to generate traffic to media sites through false, misleading and provocative headlines, particularly those that fail to match the story. It is selfish, wicked, unprofessional and unpatriotic.
“This is the kind of caption that can set the nation on fire. There must be consequences for such reckless and dangerous publications. We believe that both the security agencies and those in charge of broadcasts and the spread of information should map out strategies for ensuring that culprits are promptly sanctioned. Nigeria will never become a sane society unless people are checked against recklessness and impunity.
“Finally, MURIC charges Nigerians to eschew reckless statements and provocative publications as we go into the new year. Nigeria needs peace to grow. Let us understand our differences and learn to live with them instead of pursuing clashes of cultures,” it said with hashtag #NigerianPress #AvoidProvocativeHeadlines