By Daniels Nwokike.
The Chief of Defence Staff(CDS), General Abayomi Olonisakin, has appealed to the media to exercise restraint while reporting issues that have serious security implications.
Olonisakin who made the appeal on Thursday at the 2017 Defence Correspondents Seminar in Abuja, urged the media, especially defence correspondents, to always liaise with the Director Defence Information to obtain official statements concerning security issues in order to clear doubts.
The CDS who was represented by the Chief of Civil-Military Relations, Rear Admiral Jonathan Ango, stressed that the DHQ will leverage on the existing cordial relationship between the media and the military, adding that the Directorate of Defence Information (DDI) remains the clearing house for all media related issues concerning the military.
According to him; “It is worthy of note that due to our continuous drive to maintain an open door policy, media organisations have always been granted permission and provided armed escorts to our theatres of operation. Likewise, some Non-Governmental organisations and Civil Society Organisations were facilitated to perform their duties at different locations of the mission areas nationwide”.
In the same vein, the Director Defence Information, Major General John Enenche stressed that the need for Defence Headquarters and the Directorate of Defence Information in particular to always ensure that the media is adequately prepared to function creditably well to inform the general public of the true operations of the military, led to organizing the seminar.
Also speaking, the Director General, Voice of Nigeria (VON), Mr Osita Okechukwu noted that the media, being a bridge between the military and it’s operations, and the general public, need to be very professional and mature in reporting the activities of the military.
He said, “Let there be confidence building between the society, security agencies and the media so that the society will be better for it. Even when sensitive materials or information is given out, unofficially weigh the options. Will that bring cohesion? Will it change things for the better? Supposing it comes from disgruntled element in the system, does it advance society- indeed Nigeria? It is right to expose corruption no doubt, but is it right to expose to the enemy where the arsenal of the military is?”.
The VON DG enjoined journalists to always confirm and reconfirm their news whenever they are in doubt as it still remains the usual practice in any newsroom before bringing it to the public and urged them to desist from the act of portraying insurgents as heroes at the expense of the military.
He however expressed dismay over the stiff competition between media houses to be the first to break a news and therefore encouraged them not to do so at the expense of national security.
The theme of the 2017 Defence Correspondents Seminar was “Professional Information Management a Panacea for Improved National Security”