By Suleiman Abbah
In recent times, the dissemination of news and information has become increasingly important in shaping public opinion and influencing political landscapes. However, with the rise of online media platforms, the potential for false and malicious reporting has also increased. This is the case of a recent incident in Kogi State, where the publisher of Liberal News, an online portal, falsely published a security alarm that potentially threatened peace and stability in the state.
The report recklessly claimed that Governor Yahaya Bello had procured police operatives to invade Ayingba, Kogi State, with the intention of assassinating key figures in the Muritala Yakubu Ajaka Gubernatorial Campaign Organization.
The Northern Emancipation Network (NEN), responding to the report, called for the arrest and prosecution of Dayo, the publisher of Liberal News, for publishing such malicious, unverified and dangerous report that has the potential to provoke unrest and disrupt law and order. The NEN emphasized that it is criminal for any newspaper, whether online or mainstream, to publish unverified reports that can incite violence.
The media has a responsibility to report accurately and ethically, ensuring that information is verified before publication. By failing to adhere to these principles, Liberal News has not only undermined the credibility of journalism but also contributed to the potential breakdown of peace and security in Kogi State.
The media plays a crucial role in society, acting as a watchdog and providing citizens with reliable information. However, this role comes with great responsibility. Media outlets, including online portals, must exercise caution and adhere to professional standards when reporting on matters that affect the well-being and security of the people. The media should not resort to unnecessary sensationalism or biased reporting, as this can lead to the escalation of tensions and conflicts.
The NEN rightly calls for the regulation and sanctioning of Liberal News and other news outlets that engage in irresponsible reporting. The Federal Government should proscribe media outlets that undermine peace, security, and peaceful coexistence through unguarded publications. Additionally, individuals associated with such organizations that incite others to violate the law must face appropriate consequences.
It is imperative for the government to use its powers to ensure that media operators report security situations responsibly and without bias. Media establishments should adhere to editorial policies and ethical guidelines, promoting balanced reporting that fosters unity and understanding among diverse groups. Sensationalism and biased reporting only serve to exacerbate tensions and hinder national progress.
The incident involving Liberal News in Kogi State highlights the urgent need for responsible journalism. Media outlets must prioritize accuracy, verification, and ethical reporting to avoid the dissemination of false information that can incite violence and disrupt peace. The government should play a role in regulating the media industry, ensuring that media operators are held accountable for their actions. By doing so, we can foster a society where the media acts as a force for positive change, promoting peace, security, and unity.