How Media Compromises the Fight Against Banditry and Insurgency
By Ambrose Benard Gowong
The Nigeria media spectrum known for “anything goes” is always on the lookout for anything considered “newsy” to satisfy its unending appetite for stories. Going by its daily reportage especially in this period of insurgency, kidnapping and banditry, the media often than not do unconsciously lay bare certain information before the perpetrators. These informations often than not may compromise victims safety as well as national security. Firstly, it may help in re/strategising these criminals operations and secondly it may provided them with some sort of an evaluation platform, thirdly, it may catalysed these criminal elements into attempting new grounds.
Only yesterday, the media was awash with the story that the MD, Bank of Agriculture had to secure his release with a whooping one hundred million Naira. This story has left Nigerians giving and sharing divergent opinions on the issue with some saying such an amount could actually fortified and acquire more operational logistics for the bandits. Others sees such lofty amount as the oil that will keep the engine of that criminality running while on the other hand, sympathisers to victims and family members are saying no amount is considered much if that will guarantee the safety and release of their loved ones. This is born from the caution reasoning that authorities especially security agents can not be trusted for the negotiation and safe release of their loved ones. Those in the past who put their trust in the hands of security agents, did not share a palatable tale.
While the debate rages on, in truth the real culprit in this mix ought to be the Nigeria media men and women; in both print and electronic media houses inclusive those technology has birthed to us as “citizens journalists”. It was these sets of people who by their actions unconsciously mentioned and profile the quality of the abducted thereby raising the stakes and the negotiation bar higher especially on the case of MD BOA. You recalled, it was the media who reported with photographs, names and designations of those kidnapped, killed and those who were lucky to be alive.
It is through the same media that video evidence of how the MD BOA was released and the demands of these criminals were ferried. The same media space under the guise of informing the society constantly updates its spaces with the attacks and successes of these criminals engraving the impression on the minds of Nigerians that our security agencies are either ragtag, good for nothing or incapacitated to challenge these criminals. These narratives demoralised the spirits our law enforcement agencies, it also emboldened the ego of these criminals to think they are superior and winning.
While it may be entirely wrong to ask the media not to furnish the society with daily happenings in this regard, the media should also be mindful that information especially that which involved the security of the society or country displayed in public corridors for the consumption of supposedly law abiding citizens, is by default also available for the deviants amongst us.
If the media do not tacitly supply these criminals with information, they will be blind and unable to make a calculable guess on their chances of hitting their targets successfully and retreating. The media at this point should be able to sniff, interpret and clearly delineate what kinds of information that runs conversely to National security. Journalists and media influencers should be responsible to God and the society they live. This is because the society in which you live must be in existence first before propagating your religious, political, ethnic or other primordial sentiments.
Gowong is a Social Media Influencer