By Olayinka Ajayi
The Senior special assistant to the president on media Mallam Garba Shehu, has said the media has not been fair with its report of the killings in Benue state.
Speaking with newsmen, the presidential spokesman said the “lack of journalism ethics” is very unfortunate. “We want to state emphatically that a segment of the Nigerian media is sinking deeper and deeper into the mesh of hate speech in spite of repeated appeals by recognized and reputable media bodies, the government and concerned Nigerians,” he said.
“Lack of respect for journalism ethics and press laws in the Nigerian media, especially regarding the clashes in Benue state is very unfortunate
“Unfortunately, self-regulation which is the norm in civilised societies has taken flight from many of our newsrooms.
“For instance, a recent column published in a national newspaper said ‘President Muhammadu Buhari was the first to endorse the Benue massacre’ on New Year day.
“The same columnist described the minister of defence, Mansur Muhammad Dan-Ali as ‘a dyed-in-the-wool Fulani irredentist who places trade over and above human life’.”
He said Nigerians should be able express themselves without “resorting to gutter language.”
“We must learn to express our grievances and criticisms without resorting to gutter language or to name calling, and the press has a responsibility to maintain that even if it means calling their columnists to order,” he said.
Shehu said calling the president a “murderer” is disrespectful and unfair as steps have been taken to address the issues.
“Calling him a murderer is not only grossly disrespectful but unfair, especially when the president has written a letter to the senate detailing his efforts to quell the crisis in Benue state, including dispatching the minister of interior and the deputy inspector-general of police in charge of operations for an on the spot assessment of the situation in the aftermath of the unfortunate incident,” he said.