Eniola Akinkuotu, Abuja
Amid the quit notices issued to Fulani herdsmen to vacate certain areas in the South-West, the National Broadcasting Commission has warned television and radio stations against broadcasting divisive contents.
The warning is stated in a letter titled, ‘Broadcast of Crisis Involving Herdsmen, Caution’, dated January 26, 2021, sent to broadcasters nationwide. The warning after a quit notice issued to Fulani herdsmen by Yoruba rights activist, Sunday Adeyemo aka Sunday Igboho, in Oyo State.
Governor Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State had also asked herdsmen in the state to vacate all forest reserves within a week.
The NBC, which is the regulator of the broadcast media, said there was a need for stations to maintain professionalism.
The letter read in part, “The National Broadcasting Commission wishes to bring to your attention emerging trends of national concern like the herdsmen crisis in Ondo and Oyo states and related issues which could spiral out of proportion if not properly handled.
“The commission therefore seizes this opportunity to admonish broadcasters on the need to exhibit professionalism and observe required caution in the coverage and presentation of the quit notice to herdsmen and related issues.”
The NBC reminded broadcasters of the rules governing coverage of crisis as well as the constitutional need to not only promote and protect the corporate existence of the country but the economic well-being of the Nigerian state.
It quoted Sections 5.4.1 (a, b&f) and 5.4.3 of the broadcast code.
Part of the section reads, “(Broadcasters) shall not transmit divisive materials that may threaten or compromise the divisibility and indissolubility of Nigeria as a sovereign state.
“In reporting conflict situations, the broadcaster shall perform the role of a peace agent by adhering to the principle of responsibility, accuracy and neutrality.”
The NBC has in recent time come under fire for its stiff regulations which civil society groups say are at variance with democratic norms.
The commission had in October fined Channels Television, Arise TV and AIT for the manner with which it covered the #EndSARS protests.