The Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lt Gen Tukur Yusuf Buratai has warned against fake journalism and hyping of propaganda of terrorists by the Nigerian media of likening it to activities of “5th columnist” which he said was affecting morale of troops fighting terrorism in the country.
Speaking at the maiden Nigeria Army Media Conference organised in collaboration with the Nigerian Guild of Editors, Nigerian Union of Journalists, Guild of Online Publishers and the Guild of Professional Bloggers in Nigeria, with the theme, “Enhancing Media-Military Relationship for Effective Fight Against Terrorism And Insurgency in Nigeria“, Burata said the theme of the conference was carefully selected in a bid to curb the present challenges of unfair reportage trending in the country.
The COAS maintained that it is imperative to checkmate the propaganda championed by terrorists which is aimed at weakening the morale of the troops.
He tasked the media to encourage effective reportage in the campaign against insurgency to counter the terrorists narratives.
Lt. General Buratai insisted that the recently launched Operation Egwu Eke III is aimed at combating crimes in the area of responsibility as well as ensure a conducive environment for the conduct of the 2019 General Election, reiterating the commitment of the Nigerian Army under his watch to remain apolitical, disciplined and professional.
Frowning at recent reportage on military operations which tend to put the lives of military personnel and innocent citizens at risk, the COAS said the invitation of media correspondents of Daily Trust over exposure of military counter operations strategy against Boko Haram, was a threat to National Security and national interest noting that in an emergency situation of war in the North East, which the nation found itself, the military had constitutional right to get to the root of the issue.
Earlier in his welcome address, the Director Army Public Relations, Brig Gen Sani Kukasheka Usman thanked the COAS for providing the necessary logistics for hosting the event which is the first of its kind in the history of the Army.
He said the conference is aimed at deepening military media relationship in the pursuit of enhanced security architecture in the country.
Brig. Gen Usman urged journalists to shun every act of unfair reportage especially as it concerns the war in the North East.
His words, “The military and the media in Nigeria are indeed partners in progress as both are working for the common good of the society in their respective ways.
“The Nigerian Army is deployed in various parts of the country on internal security duties in aid of civil authority and the fight against terrorism and insurgency to safeguard the territorial integrity of our great nation.
“As expected, these operations have been subject of media coverage and enquiry. However, most of the reportage tend to negate the basic principle of giving the military fair hearing and were not reported in the context of national security objectives. Thus creating room for mutual suspicion and misunderstanding.”
He explained that the initiative is also the outcome of an interactive session the COAS had with editors of media houses in Nigeria at Command Guest House, Maiduguri on 22 December 2018.
Delivering his lecture, a former Director General (DG) of the Nigeria Television Authority (NTA), Prof Tony Iredia called for an improved military partnership with the media to ensure smooth and timely reportage of events.
The veteran presenter and columnist commended the COAS for embedding journalists as part of his entourage to operational theatres saying it brings about trust and more understanding of the workings of the military with the populace.
The event witnessed the presence of the Minister of Information and Culture represented by Deaconess (Mrs) Grace Isugebe, Editors, NIPR members, Online Publishers, the Academia, Defence Correspondents and Principal staff officers from the army headquarters, as well as retired military personnel.