Broadcast media regulator, the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) has warned television and radio stations to be wary of how they handle the reportage of the ongoing crisis between terrorist Fulani herdsmen and their host communities, particularly in Ondo and Oyo States.
This is coming on the heels of the quit notice issued to terrorist Fulani herdsmen by Yoruba rights activist, Sunday Adeyemo (Sunday Igboho) in Oyo State and the order by Governor Akeredolu of Ondo State asking illegal herdsmen out of government forest reserves in the state.
In a letter titled, ‘Broadcast of Crisis Involving Herdsmen, Caution’, and dated January 26, 2021, sent to broadcasters nationwide, the regulator reminded broadcasting stations of their responsibilities to ensure that national interests take precedence over commercial consideration.
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.