Mass communication experts must be cracking their brains with heavy sledge harmer to actually find a new and more suitable adjective to describe what used to be known as junk Journalism. As for me, what is happening today is much deeper than junk. For want of a better expression, lets call it ‘information terrorism.’
It has crept into journalism practice and now confuses our understanding of the profession. What also suprises many communication experts is the rate at which the political class who are often the victims of the terror, display, gullibility for this trap. Their patronage is the sap that has sustained the oddity in Port Harcourt, the once glorious Garden City; so many of such news trash have sprang up like mushroom in the last few year. Tens of others are currently in their incubation stage – lava, pupa, name it. Most of the wild papers are printed in cubicles located in and around the famous Mile I market. No thanks to computer technology which forms the major technological accessory.
With one functional computer system and a copy typist, a publisher’ is almost adequately equipped to get on with the business. The names are not always outlandish. From ‘Morning Sun’ to ‘Evening Moon’ Newspapers. Indeed, their editorial contents sound like moonlight tales. Rather than teach morals, educate or inform, they go all out to kill and bury. They castigate where they should criticize. They misinform where they should inform and they pass judgment for objective comment.
For them, libel is no longer an enforceable law and should not be respected. Social responsibility is now a game for the irresponsible. The casualties are not only the political class, but the reading public whose right to be truly inform and to read objective and balanced criticism is flagrantly abused.
Last year, the Hon. Speaker of the Rivers State House of Assembly, Hon. Tonye Harry came on the firering line over some of the allegations made against him at the Justice Eso Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
One of the captions reads ‘More troubles for Rivers Speaker – As he battles to save name. This was followed in quick succession by another even more embarrassing caption in another edition “Tonye Harry Recruits Thugs: Doles out N5m”.
The supposed front page news reads in part: “The Rt. Hon. Speaker may be parting ways with Governor Rotimi Amaechi, as any moment from now, the sword of Damocles hangs over his head. Sooner or later, Rt. Hon. Harry would be referred to as former Speaker of the Rivers State House of Assembly if the forces against him finally had their way.”
This is a clear example of editorialisation in which the reporter injects his personal views and sentiments into what should otherwise be a news report.
It is against the ethics of journalism practice, but since we have convinced ourselves that papers like this are engaged in something other than journalism, it can be pardoned and the issue of etiquette need not arise.
Again, the second supposed news headline is telling whoever its readers are, that the Hon Speaker Tonye Harry has abandoned the serious business of lawmaking for which his constituency sent him to the State House and for which Rivers People made him Speaker, and taken to the recruitment of thugs to scare his accuser, Tonye Harry, son of late Chief Marshal Harry. May be because the latter accused him of having a hand in the kidnap of the mother of the former Governor, Sir Celestine Omehia.
The write up also alleged that the Speaker had already committed N.5 million into the project. The article obviously presented the allegation made against the speaker before the Truth and Reconciliation Commission as if it was an established fact proved beyond reasonable doubt. Recently too, one of the Port Harcourt based local tabloids, Envoy made allegations of frand against a Rivers State lawmaker, Hon. Olari Brown in four different editions without substantiating the claim. Such reports can inflame passion. They run contrary to the overall objective of journalism. Any report that ignores facts is junk journalism and does not represent the interest of the public.
Junk must not be packaged as an integral part of journalism. Social Responsibility must be given an overriding consideration above any form of economic and political gains in the efforts to disseminate information.
Journalism is a noble and honourable profession and should not be allowed to be hijacked by ignoble and dishonourable people in the name of politics.
Chukwu is a media consultant based in Port Harcourt.
Senate Wades Into CJN, S’Court Justices’ Feud
The Senate has waded into the disagreement between the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Ibrahim Tanko Muhammad, and justices of the Supreme Court.
Fourteen aggrieved justices of the apex court had, in a widely circulated letter to the CJN, accused him of neglecting their welfare, not carrying them along in managing the affairs of the court, the deteriorating condition of services generally, and the state of the litigation department.
Speaking at plenary on Wednesday, Senate President Ahmad Lawan said the legislature must be interested in what is happening in the judiciary with a view to finding solution to any of its issues.
He therefore mandated the Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters led by Senator Opeyemi Bamidele (APC, Ekiti) to wade into the issue.
He said: “We must have interest in what is happening in the judicial arm of government with a view to bringing solution to the issue.
“Our Standing Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters should get involved and find out what the real issue is so that the National Assembly can help out.”
Voter Registration: INEC Insists On June 30 Deadline, Denies Extension
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has denied extending the deadline of the ongoing Continuous Voter Registration (CVR), describing the report that it has agreed to extend the deadline by 60 days as false.
Chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Electoral Matters, Aishatu Jibril Dukku, had while briefing lawmakers told members during a plenary session on Wednesday that the Commission had agreed to extend the CVR by 60 days.
“The Committee held a meeting with INEC yesterday (Tuesday) and they agreed to extend the CVR, all our resolutions were approved,” she said.
But responding, Chief Press Secretary to the INEC chairman, Rotimi Oyekanmi, clarified that the Commission has not announced an extension of the CVR deadline.
The exercise, which was meant to end on June 30, has been greeted by calls for an extension. Also, a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja had stopped INEC from ending the exercise until all eligible voters had been registered.
Meanwhile, the House of Representatives has faulted media reports associating it with the extension of the ongoing CVR.
The House spokesperson, Benjamin Kalu, said it was untrue that the shift of the INEC voter registration was announced on the floor of the House on Wednesday.
Flanked by the chairman of the House Committee on INEC, Hajia Aisha Dukku, he said the decision on the shift is left to Prof Mahmoud Yakubu-led INEC to take.
Kalu acknowledged that INEC may not be able to adhere to the recently adopted motion of the House, which demanded an extension of the exercise by two additional months in view of the extant provision of the electoral amendment Act and the 1999 Constitution as amended.
He reiterated the resolve of the House to ensure that eligible voters are not disenfranchised in the 2023 poll.
Dukku expressed optimism that INEC would heed the call for an extension.
Fear Grips APC Over Gale Of Defections, Adamu Runs To NASS
Following the primary elections conducted in different parts of the country by political parties, a gale of defections has hit the ruling All Progressive Congress (APC), causing the party serious concern.
APC national chairman, Sen Abdullahi Adamu, on Wednesday described the mass defection of members of the party to other political parties as unfortunate and worrisome.
Adamu made this comment to newsmen after he met with the APC Senate Caucus at the National Assembly Complex, Abuja.
He said: “It is an unfortunate development when it happens, but this is the season for all manner of behaviour in the political space. And Nigeria is not an exception.
“In every election year, this kind of thing gives cause for stakeholders to sneeze. This is what we are experiencing. Nigeria is no exception and the APC is no exception.
“I don’t give a damn what is happening in other parties. I care about what is happening in our party, but you and I know that it’s not just in the APC that is having this experience; because we are the ruling party, yes our problems are more prominent in the public glare.”
He stated that every responsible leader will be concerned worry about losing one member, not to talk of two. At the moment, we are faced with the stark reality of that problem and we are committed with my colleagues in the National Working Committee (NWC) to face the problems squarely and see the problems are solvable, and we will solve them,” he said.
But despite the defection the party has been suffering in recent weeks, yesterday three senators belonging to the APC resigned their membership.
The lawmakers are Senators Ahmad Babba Kaita (Katsina North), Lawal Yahaya Gumau (Bauchi South), and Francis Alimikhena (Edo North).
Whilst Babba Kaita and Alimikhena defected to the opposition Peoples Democratic Party, Gumau, on the other hand, defected to the New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP).
Two senators from Bauchi and Imo States have resigned their membership of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) respectively.
The lawmakers are Senator Dauda Jika – representing Bauchi Central and elected on the platform of the APC, and Senator Ezenwa Francis Onyewuchi – representing Imo East Senatorial District, who was elected on the platform of the PDP.
Both senators, in separate letters addressed to Senate President Ahmad Lawan, conveyed their decision to resign their membership of the APC and PDP, and to join the Labour Party (LP) and New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP), respectively.
The APC lawmaker, Dauda Jika, said he was moving to the NNPP whose ideals are in line with his political aspirations.
Onyewuchi, on his part, said defecting to Labour Party would nable him to participate fully in the “movement for a new Nigeria.”
Wednesday’s defections bring the number of APC Senators to 66, with members of the minority parties standing at 43.
The minority parties in the Senate at present are five in number as of Wednesday, June 22nd, 2022.
They are the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Young People’s Party (YPP), All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP), and Labour Party (LP).
Meanwhile, A former Minister of Aviation and chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Chief Femi Fani-Kayode, has raised the alarm that 22 Senators of the ruling party were at the verge of leaving the party for the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) over their inability to secure re-election tickets in the just-concluded APC primaries.
The Tide source reports that the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, and Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, had at separate sittings of the Houses lamented the inability of many lawmakers to secure their return tickets for the 2023 elections.
Chief Fani-Kayode, however, on Wednesday took to his verified social media handles, saying the threat by the aggrieved Senators was a serious matter and something must be done to avert the mass defection.
He added that many party members have expressed concerns over the development even as he called on the national chairman of the APC, Senator Abdullahi Adamu, and national secretary, Senator Iyiola Omisore, to quickly wade in by reaching out to the affected lawmakers.
The former Minister wrote: “22 APC Senators are threatening to decamp to PDP because they have been denied the tickets to return to the Senate.
“This is serious and something must be done to prevent it.
“Many are concerned and we urge our able National Chairman and National Secretary to reach them. We cannot afford to lose them.”
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