The Nigeria Union of Journalists, NUJ, has commended the Inspector General of Police for initiating capacity building scheme especially for its Public Relations Officers.
Speaking at the opening of a 4-day capacity building for Police Public Relations Officers, in Agulu, Anambra state, the president of the Union, Chris Isiguzo said the event was timely and very germane to international best practices in Police duties.
“While we note 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, we commend the initiative and urge that such regular and periodic events will 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 our democratic process in Nigeria is in danger of being undermined by unscrupulous politicians and the prevalence of false, hateful and divisive information that creates fear, ignorance and uncertainty within the public at large.
“We believe that the crisis of propaganda, fake news and hate speech requires a practical and comprehensive response which puts ethics, self-regulation and good governance at the heart of journalism across the country.
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.
We condemn all forms of violence against journalists in Nigeria, attempts to bribe and corrupt the process of journalism and all attempts to manipulate media for propaganda. We also call on all journalists, in spite of these threats, to redouble their efforts and live up to the values and standards of the profession.
We call 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 said.
He also commended the Inspector General of Police who has given encouragement and Support to the Framework on Police-Media Relations and Safety of Journalists in Nigeria.
This framework, he noted seeks to x-ray the relationship between the job of the Nigerian Police and that of the media on one hand; the relationship between the police and the media on the other hand and how these network of relationships can be exploited to preserve the Freedom of the Press in general and ensure the safety of journalists as they discharge their lawful duties.
This is pertinent, because, freedom of expression ranks amongst the most important of the inalienable rights of man. However, Freedom of the Press, though very important to democracy, has unfortunately been subsumed under the Right to Freedom of Expression in the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of 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, enhance Press Freedom and deepen 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 organisations.
According to the president the framework will further accord mutual respect and recognizing each other’s constitutional role and operational limitations and enhance synergy between police and journalists in the field
In addition it will provide timely information to Journalists by the Police to enable them meet deadlines and reduce the tendency of the media publishing one-sided stories on the force and factual and professional reporting of police activities will enhance positive perception of the force.
Isiguzo also noted that it will give prominence to action of a few bad eggs and generalising can exacerbate poor relations, and shall continue to encourage journalists to operate according to international best practices.