In our last piece about developmental reporting, titled: Sahara Reporters: National Security and Sowore’s Ambition, https://securednaija.com/2023/06/03/sahara-reporter-national-security-and-sowores-ambition/ , we analysed the failures of Sahara Reporters’ leadership in curbing the excesses of the news outfit who are indeed practicing journalism as if they are in a Sahara desert, hungry, tasty and looking for whom to devour.
This online news platform has once again brought their ignorance about developmental, solution and fair journalism to the public domain by wrongly reporting an incident about a Nigerian Army soldier who was detained for violating extant laws of the Armed Forces of Nigeria, connecting it to a sensitive religion issue which could cause disaffection in the service and in the nation in general.
Their lead says, “A soldier identified as Musa Adamu has been detained by the Nigerian army authorities for preaching about Jesus Christ while in service uniform on social media”. Such lead is intentionally carved to create hatred and puncture the morale of troops. Imagine such a time bomb in this nation, where religion issues are taken so fragile. A patriotic media entrepreneur who has an ambition of becoming the number one citizen in his country is expected to sanction such reporter and the news editor who allowed such to pass through to the general public.
How could a self-acclaimed international and front line media outfit report an issue in such manner if their gate-keeping process is not faulty and the gatekeepers; set of ignorant, unprofessional and unethical team who are rejected from their chosen fields and get dumped in the field of the noble profession of journalism. If the profile of the editors and reporters of Sahara reporters are vetted, it is sure that many of them are not trained in the field of journalism. Of course, to show them how unprofessional they are, the Nigerian Army has set the record straight in a statement released by its spokesman, Brig Gen Onyema Nwachukwu.
In the Nigerian Army reply, the Army said, Lance Corporal Musa Adamu currently in detention was not arrested because he converted from the religion of Islam to Christianity and started preaching the gospel. Rather, the Army said the soldier is in detention for violating certain provisions of the Armed Forces Act.
According to Director Army Public Relations, Brigadier General Onyema Nwachukwu, he said, ”Contrary to reports being circulated in the Social Media that a personnel of the Nigerian Army (NA), Lance Corporal Musa Adamu is in detention for converting from Islam to Christianity and preaching the gospel, the reality is that the soldier is in custody for violation of some provisions of the Armed Forces Act.
He further clarified that the awful report is not only a misrepresentation of the true situation but an outrageous falsehood tainted with religious bigotry, being peddled against the Nigerian Army; a professional institution guided by well-established ethics and tradition in all its activities and administration of personnel.
While setting the records straight, Nwachukwu said, “Lance Corporal Musa Adamu, a personnel of the Amphibious Training School was attached to 63 Brigade to participate in an ongoing operation, during which he was found preaching in uniform on a social media platform in violation of extant Social Media policy for the Armed Forces of Nigeria. This prompted his invitation for interrogation by relevant authorities. Rather than present himself for the investigation, he absconded for about six and a half months, resulting in the declaration of the soldier on Absence Without Official Leave (AWOL).” “The action of the personnel violates Section 58 (a) (b) Obstruction of Provost Officers and Section 59 (a) (b) Absence Without Leave, Nwachukwu clarified.
That was the straight and unambiguous narrative of the Army which gave the details of the reasons that led to the soldier’s detention. Pretending to have spoken to a source in the Army, Sahara Reporters claimed a senior officer whom they contacted replied thus, “Yes, I’m aware of his detention, I’m a Christian as well but his action was absolutely wrong. As a soldier, you are expected to be non-partisan and secular at least when in uniform.”
For the records, we at Secured Naija believes a credible media outfit would have liaised with the authorized spokesmen of the Nigerian Army, whose names could be quoted as an authority, not an anonymous senior officer who might not be authorized to speak to the media. And looking at the comment of the so called senior officer, it seems Sahara Reporter in their usual lazy attitude in balancing their story and making it look objective, cooked up the comment to show authenticity to their awkward, lopsided, subjective and unpatriotic report. In as much as it is allowed in journalism parlance, to protect your source of information, a sensitive report of such needs an authorized person with by-line to authenticate your submissions. This is a very delicate issue, written about the Army where they are not divided by ethnic or religion lines, it could have caused serious hullabaloo if it was in other organisations or agencies.
It is very important at this point to call on relevant authorities, to vet and check the so called Sahara Reporters for violating ethics of journalism in their reports which has the potency of creating chaos among the citizens. The organisation has so many followers who are being deceived with their illegal, unpatriotic and careless misinformation. The organisation has been left for so long to practice their uncultured journalism hiding under investigative journalism and Freedom of Information which of course is embarrassing the nation and causing disrespect for the noble profession of journalism.
We used to have the Nigerian Press Council (NPC), the statutory body that governs ethical standards in the Nigerian Press. It was established by the Nigerian Press Council Act No. 85 of 1992 (as amended in Act 60 of 1999). Nigerian Press Council is a Parastatal that was created to ensure ethical press standards and to maintain high professional standards for the Nigerian Press. Like most other Press Councils around the world, Part of the functions of the Nigerian Press Council revolves around ethical standards through research, proper training of journalists, accreditation of programmes in tertiary institutions amongst others.
The Nigerian Press Council is mandated to:
- Uphold ethical and professional standards in the media
- Investigate complaints against the Press
- Monitor activities of the press
- Research on contemporary Press development
- Investigate obstacles to the flow of information
- Protect the rights and privileges of journalists amongst others.
If the above is the case, we at Secured Naija call on NPC to caution the excesses of Sahara Reporters in their bid to disunite the Nation and cause religious war. Or organise a training session for their correspondents to understand developmental journalism.
Please, kindly share to end journalism of bitterness in our nation.
OOA writes from Lagos