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Government plans campaign to rally support for military

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HMIC Alh. Lai Mohammed in an interactive session with the media after a meeting in Ilorin, Kwara State.


• CISLAC decries military invasion of newspaper
• HURIWA urges responsible reporting

A massive national campaign in support of the military, especially in their fight against insurgency and insecurity, will soon be launched by the Federal Government.

“We are planning to launch a national campaign to rally support for the military. We believe the men and women who are risking all to keep us safe deserve the support and prayers of all Nigerians, not vilification, insults and other acts that are capable of dampening their morale,” the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, said at a press briefing in Abuja yesterday.

He said the campaign, which will be similar to the previous ones launched by the ministry on burning issues such as fake news and hate speech, insurgency and the fight against corruption, will mobilise Nigerians irrespective of their political leanings to show support for the military.“I think it is high time that everybody, irrespective of political affiliation, joined in supporting the war (against insurgency). It’s not unusual, as a matter of fact it’s usually the practice, that when a country is faced with this kind of challenge, people will sink their differences and work together. So, very soon, you will expect to hear from us on this campaign to support the military in the fight against not just insurgency but in the fight against insecurity,’’ Alhaji Mohammed said.

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He said the national campaign, which will be multi-faceted, will include the production and airing of special jingles on radio and television, social media intervention and advocacy.

The minister decried how some Nigerians, particularly opposition politicians, have made it their past-time to wage a campaign of disinformation against the military on the social media, saying such unpatriotic acts are discouraging and demoralizing the men and women in uniform.

“I think the biggest opposition probably today that the military has is probably not Boko Haram, it’s probably the social media because it’s so uncontrolled. Today, video clips are doctored and clips of happenings in other lands are now reported and sent out as if they are happening in Nigeria. Unfortunately, there is no one to hold responsible. This is very discouraging and it demoralises the military.

“That brings me to the bigger issue of overall support for our military. Recent developments are disturbing. The activities of a section of the media and some opposition political parties are demoralising the military and strengthening the insurgents. Without seeking or waiting for official clarification, outrageous casualty figures are prominently reported. Without consideration for national security, military plans are recklessly revealed. Not even in the United States, the bastion of democracy, does this happen,” he said.

Alhaji Mohammed said even though the government would neither censor nor gag the media, journalists must strike a balance between the constitutionally-guaranteed freedom to receive and impart information and national security.But Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC) has condemned the invasion of Daily Trust and maltreatment of its staff by the military over allegation of professional blunders in some publications.

Executive director of CISLAC, Auwal Rafsanjani, stated yesterday in Akure that the invasion “amounts to intimidation and threat to freedom of press and undermines the rule of law.”He noted that media practitioners were responsible within the rule of law and had been avoiding acts that could undermine the peace and security of the nation.

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“A free and proactive press is indispensable in a true democratic society and remains a veritable platform for informing and educating citizens to effectively engage issues of governance, while also holding government accountable. “This is possible only by public presentation of facts, and articulation or publication of findings without fear or favour,” he added.The centre expressed concern over the high-handedness by security agencies to civil issues, creating public doubt about their conduct at the general elections.

However, Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) has tasked media practitioners on responsible security reporting in order not to jeopardise national security and the ongoing counter-terrorism by the armed forces.It said the report detailing proposed military operations could have been avoided in the interest of national security and in line with the social responsibility role of the fourth estate of the realm, adding that the military had done so much towards ensuring the preservation of the territorial integrity of Nigeria.

The national coordinator, Emmanuel Onwubiko, said yesterday that “Daily Trust is among the very best in terms of professionalism and ethical conduct,” noting that most media analysts rated it as one of the very few newspapers supporting the current administration in the ongoing counter-terror war.
Onwubiko said: “The time for the media to engage in responsible security reporting is now, until the Boko Haram terrorists are degraded, decimated and defeated. We urge the military to use legal means to resolve issues arising by way of conflicts between media workers and the military because both segments of the society ought to become partners in progressive nation-building enterprises.”


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Boko HaramLai Mohammed
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