Information conceal, denials threaten military-media relations on peace building in Northeast
By Tada JUTHA, Maiduguri
The concealment and denials of credible information threaten military-media relations in the ongoing counter-terrorism operations to restore peace in Northeast.
Classifications and restrictions of such information also constitute a mix-up on the roles of the media in a democratically elected government in the country.
Dr. Sharafa Dauda of the Department of Mass Communication, University of Maiduguri (UNIMAID) raised the threats in paper entitled; “Public Relations on Conflict Zone: Imperative of Journalism-Information Managers’ partnership for peace building” at a recent military-media parley in Maiduguri, the Borno state capital.
According to him; misunderstanding of the workings of the media, including their editorial policy and drive, ownership and affiliations with external factors threaten cordial military-media relations.
He disclosed that threats to media freedom and professional safety from non-state actors, like Boko Haram lead to intimidation, arrest, detention and attack on the freedom of speech and investigative journalism.
He noted that even sensational or overzealous news reporting also threaten military-media relations to restore peace in the region
“The inclusion of half-truth, including fake news fuels conflicts,” he said, as well as endangering the stakeholders to build peace among the various communities affected in the 12-year Boko Haram insurgency.
On Freedom of Information Act, he disclosed that; “The Act grants the rights of access to records and other information on public institutions, but provides exemptions on international affairs and defense, like the ongoing counter-terrorism operations in Northeast”.
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He added that denial of disclosures of records by public institutions, judicial activities and information by Courts are the major barriers to cordial media-military relations for peace building in the region.
Citing the burden of proof, he said that the order to disclose information, public officers’ protection and classification of documents; will continue to remain a major threat to the military end terrorism that claimed over 40, 000 lives with property worth $9.2 billion (N3.42 trillion) in Borno, Adamawa and Yobe states.