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Boko Haram: Media experts advocate constructive engagement to end insurgency in North East

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Some media experts have called for constructive engagement between the government and the insurgents to end the lingering conflicts in the North East.

The experts, comprising of senior journalists and media scholars, spoke during a one-day training on conflict prevention and peace building for journalists on Monday in Lagos.

The Nigeria News Agency reports that the programme was organized by Journalists for Democratic Rights (JODER), an NGO.

Adewale Adeoye, Executive Director of JODER, said that the media was not doing enough in terms of engaging with communities directly impacted by the Book Haram Insurgency.

“During my recent visit to Borno, I discovered that the communities seem not to trust government; they wanted a third party to act as a mediator between the government and the insurgents.

“The communities are suspicious because of the alleged human rights violations by the military, therefore government’s efforts are not yielding much.”

Adeoye, however, said that there was potential for a peaceful settlement between government and Book Haram insurgents.

This, he said, was still possible in spite of the fact that the two parties had “taken extreme non-negotiable positions which made the prospects of conflict resolution more difficult”.

Also speaking during the training, Babajide Otitoju of Television Continental (TVC), noted that the military option to tackle Book Haram was not working.

“We have on our hands a big problem with Boko Haram. The strategy for war is not working; we are paying with lives, even young ones. How much longer can we go?

“There is an erroneous feeling that every conflict can be resolved through conflicts,” he said.

Otitoju urged the Federal Government to seek peace through constructive engagement, saying that the government must not use force at all times.

According to him, peace is valuable and one of the greatest means of suing for peace is constructive engagement.

“We want peace in our land because force doesn’t always work. Mediation, constructive engagement will achieve what force has not succeeded in achieving.”

Otitoju castigated the media for the indolent manner some journalists were reporting insurgency.

He said that many journalists only relied on what they were told by military spokespersons for news and never ventured to be creative and truthful in their reportage.

reports that Otitoju, who was one of the facilitators at the training, spoke on the topic, “Conflict Resolution in our Society and the Role of the Media.

On his part, Chairman, Lagos State Council of Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Dr Qasim Akinreti, urged journalists to appreciate the country’s fault lines of religion and ethnicity in reporting diversity.

Akinreti said that journalists should not play up their biases in reporting diversity, adding that use of words in writing and utterances was very important.

The NUJ chairman decried the menace of fake news being promoted majorly by the social media and promised to ensure that online practitioners became part of the union.

“We must revisit the issue of online practitioners and make them part of the NUJ.

“We need to populate the social media with authentic blogs, websites, so we can determine what is reported.

“The NUJ is going to crackdown on fake journalists; we have had enough of all the people misrepresenting the media.

“We will also be strict about bio-metric registration of journalists. We want to enforce the rules to enhance the reputation of journalism in Nigeria,” Akinreti said.

He also disclosed that the NUJ community radio would soon go on air, saying that necessary structures had been put in place for its take off.

COF/WOJ

Edited by Wale Ojectimi