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Problem Of Ethics And Journalism In Nigeria



Being a paper presented by  Dan Agbese  Editor-In-Chief, Newswatch Magazine at a workshop organised by the Rivers State Council of Nigeria Union of Journalists, Port Harcourt, March 4, 2010.



An ideal is a prize worth fighting for but it is not enough to prevent anyone from abusing his position in the news media. No reporter is an angel. All men and all women have a tendency to misuse their positions in ways that do no credit to their professions or vocations. Therefore, journalism, like medicine and law, does require a code of ethics to guide the professional conduct of editors and reporters. The first attempt to provide Nigerian journalists with such a code was made in 1978 by the Nigerian Press Organisation, NPO. The organised was made up of the Newspaper Proprietors Association of Nigeria. The Nigerian Guild of Editors and the Nigerian Union of Journalists. It issued what it called Code of Honour for Nigerian journalists. The eight point code stipulates as follows:

1) That the public is entitled to the truth and that only correct information can form the basis for sound journalism and ensure the confidence of the people.

2) That it is the moral duty of every journalist to have respect for the truth and to publish or prepare for publication only the truth to the best of his knowledge.

3) That is the duty of the journalist to publish only facts; never to suppress such facts as he knows; never to falsify either to suit his own purposes, or any other purposes.

4) That it is the duty of the journalist to refuse any reward for publishing or suppressing news or comments, other than salary and allowances legitimately earned in the discharge of his professional duties.

5)  That the journalist shall employ all legitimate means in the collection of news, and he shall defend at all times the right to free access, provided that due regard is paid to the privacy of individuals.

6) That once information has been collected and published, the journalist shall observe the universally accepted principle of secrecy and shall not disclose the source of his information obtained in confidence.

7) That it is the duty of the journalist to regard plagiarism as unethical.

8) That it is the duty of every journalist to correct any published information found to be incorrect.

This Code of Honour does qualify as a code of ethics for Nigerian journalists. It prescribes the limits of ethical standards. Its primary objective is to focus the journalist’s mind on his professional responsibilities to the society. Time will not permit us to examine the code seriatim. But let us look at the first item in the code in the context of our discussion here. It prescribes that the public is entitled to the truth. We need not ask, as Pilate did. What is truth? We do have a fairly good idea what truth is in certain circumstances. It is true, for instance, that we are gathered here at this workshop. It is also true that President Musa Yar’Adua is ill and has not been seen in public for more than three months. These truths are also facts. They cannot reasonably be disputed.

Yet, truth and facts are not so easily interchangeable. In the court of law, a man may swear to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. He can then proceed with a straight face to tell lies. Truth is often a mixture of facts with processed opinions about issues. I personally prefer to speak of facts. Facts are more manageable in terms of reliability than truth.

One of the fundamental problems with reporting is that reporters depend almost entirely on other people. Other people give us the facts. Even if the reporter witnesses an accident, he is still obliged to confirm the number of casualties from police or hospital authorities. If his sources tell him lies, he  invariably but innocently serves the public with the diet of lies so dished out to him. This is worse in a dispute. It is said that in war, the first casualty is the truth. It is the same in all disputes. In all disputes, the reporter is confronted with two sets of facts or truths. The first set consists of the facts as they are; the second set consists of doctored or varnished facts that may be strange to the truth but are nevertheless intended to serve vested interest. Political facts are sweeter than real facts.

Take the neglect of the Niger Delta for instance. There are certain basic facts that confirm that this neglect is a fact confirmed by devastated farmlands and the pollution of waters in the area. But have the federal government and the oil companies done anything over the years to remedy the peculiar problems of the area? Once you raise this question, you are instantly bombarded with all sorts of facts because here  we are no longer dealing with facts as they are but facts as the parties to the dispute intend them for public consumption. Here is the challenge for the reporters and editors in this region. The challenge for them is to rise above the propaganda and dig diligently for the truth;  how much was OMPADEC given and how much did it do? How much has NDDC been given so far and how much has it done to change the face of the region? How much have the state governments in the region received as their shares of the derivation fund and how much have they done with the money? These are verifiable facts. If the truth is known it may help to ease tension and volatility in the region.

Let us look at another aspect of the first item in the code of honour. The freedom of the press to serve the public the truth to which the code says it is entitled is severely restricted by a number of factors. A publishable fact must pass the test of its being in the public interest. Who decides that and on what basis? The editor, of course, does not quite often on grounds of universal convention. All of us guard our private lives. We believe that our privacy must not be invaded because what we do in private lives in nobody’s business. Is the private life of a private individual of public interest? By convention, we tend to leave people alone unless and until they cross the boundary and deny themselves the right to their own privacy.

It is said that a public officer has no private life. This may well be so, but even here public interest draws the line. It is not everything we know about the private life of a public officer that is publishable. Convention imposes on us the obligation to protect the integrity of a public officer under certain circumstances.

Some facts offend the laws of the land. We cannot publish such facts because publishing them is deemed not to be in the public interest. If we do, we pay dearly for our indiscretion. Here I draw your attention to the laws of libel, sedition, pornography, national security and official secrecy.

Another set of facts the press cannot publish concerns those facts whose publication would be injurious to public safety, public morality and national defence. If Nigeria is at war with another country, the movement of its troops would be a fact but the public is not entitled to know that because its publication would compromise national security and put the lives of our troops at risk.

There are even more difficulties that confront the reporter in carrying out his daily duty of serving the public with the truth to which it is entitled. These difficulties or constraints fall into two broad categories – internal and external. Internal constraints refer to a) proprietorial interests, b) personal interests and c) self-censorship.

Brigadier-general Samuel Ogbemudia, former military governor of the old Mid-West Region, once put it quite nicely when he said no government sets up a newspaper to criticise itself. Despite the sometimes high-minded mission statements of proprietors, all of them have vested personal, economic, religious and even ethnic interests in setting up newspapers or radio and television stations. They expect journalists working for them to fully protect those interests at all times and at the same time advance them, even at the expense of their business revivals.

Journalists are human beings. We all have our personal interests and those of our friends to protect and even promote. Those interests do tend to exert some influence in the way we do our job. This is usually evident in self-censorship. We restrain ourselves from publishing facts known to us about issues and event because doing so would compromise our interest or those of our friends.The external constraints are (a) inducements, (b) pressures from individuals, groups and organisations and (c) laws and administrative decisions. Remember the brown envelope syndrome? Those who invite reporters to press conferences know what they must do – they must induce the reporters with money to publish their stories. Reporters and editors are also induced to kill stories when their publication would affect certain vested interests. The more pernicious aspect of this constraint is found in a situation where editors and reporters are induced or to be more polite about it, persuaded to publish damaging stories about individuals and organisations. Here the public is not served the truth and by the time the truth is known, the damage has been done and someone’s integrity has been called into question. 

All of us face pressures from our friends and communities to give the public some varnished truths. Sometimes we are even blackmailed to do this. And truth becomes the casualty.

Legal and administrative constraints are hurdles in the path of the reporter’s efforts to give the public the truth. Governments in Nigeria from the colonial times to the present, have systematically run the ring around the Nigerian press. Prince Tony Momoh has detailed the various laws specifically directed at constraining the press. There have been eighty or so of these laws. Perhaps, the most notorious among them were the Newspapers Act of 1964, decree 11 of 1976 and decree four of 1984. the more dangerous of these constraints during our long winter of military rule were not the laws, draconian as some of them were, but that what was not an offence became an offence at the whims of the military men and journalists were punished for them. A good case in point was the publication by Newswatch magazine in April 1987 of stories that dissected the report of the Samuel Cookey panel on political reforms. The Babangida administration took offence and banned the magazine for six months. The magazine committed no offence because the report was a public document and its publication did not endanger national security in any way. If anything, the magazine sought to promote public discourse on the political future of the country.

To be continued


Dan Agbese

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Investing In Nyesom Wike: A Story Of Dedication, Sacrifice And Ultimate Loss



In 2015, I made a conscious decision to invest my financial resources, my time, and energy into supporting Nyesom Wike’s gubernatorial campaign. I poured my heart and soul into ensuring Nyesom Wike emerged victorious even at the risk of my personal safety.
Again in 2019, I doubled down on my commitment. I invested a significant amount of money to procure campaign outfits for all twenty-three Local Governments Areas of Rivers State. I spared no expense in supplementing Wike’s election efforts in my own local government, and once again putting myself at great risk to safeguard the fairness and transparency of the electoral process.
However, despite my unwavering loyalty and sacrifices, I found myself abandoned and forgotten by Wike. Throughout his eight-year tenure, he failed to acknowledge my contributions or fulfill his promises and agreements. Even as a former Deputy Governor, Wike denied me my severance benefit.
My investment in Wike’s governorship was not just financial – it was a commitment of passion, dedication, and belief in a better future for Rivers State. Yet, his leadership style of dishonesty, greed, drunkenness and rash abuse of senior citizens brought me nothing but disappointment, misery and losses.
By the grace of God, today I speak not as a victim, but as a hero. I have accepted my losses, and I have moved on. And as I reflect on my experience, I cannot help but urge Wike to do the same and allow peace and development to reign in Rivers State.
Nyesom Wike, when you speak of investing in Governor Sim Fubara’s election, remember those like me who also invested in you. Remember the sacrifices I made, the risks I took, and the promises and agreements you left unfulfilled.
It is time for you, Wike, to let go of the past and allow Governor Sim Fubara the breathing space he needs to lead Rivers State forward. Allow him to focus on the challenges of good governance and the aspirations of the people. Spare him these unwarranted and ill-conceived political manoeuvrings founded on personal agenda and not for general good of Rivers State and her people.
I may have lost my investment on Wike, but I have not lost hope in the future of Rivers State. And together, we will continue to strive for a brighter tomorrow.
Long Live the Governor to Rivers State, Sir Siminialayi Fubara!
Long Live the Good People of Rivers State!!
Long Live the Federal Republic of Nigeria!!!
Engr Ikuru is former Deputy Governor of Rivers State.

Tele Ikuru


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Is Okocha A Happy Man Being Perpetual Hireling?



The man Tony Okocha, the devastated tattered ragtag remnant Rivers APC factional, but Caretaker, Chairman, is known for being notoriously a hireling willing to play in the mud just for the pay or settlement. To Rt Hon Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, he did against Chief Nyesom Wike. To Senator Magnus Abe, he did against Rotimi Amaechi. To Chief Nyesom Wike, he did against Magnus Abe. Having maintained such unbefitting character trait, it is not surprising to see him at his demeaned best showing off his tainted skill of grandstanding and loquaciously struggling fruitlessly almost every day to castigate the popular Rivers people’s Governor with very glaring false, bogus and unsubstantiated claims such as:
1. That Governor Fubara is wasting state fund in the name of thanksgiving across 23 Local Government Areas.
2. That Governor Fubara has withheld Local Government funds.
3. That Governor Fubara runs the government without input from the State Executive Council.
4. That nothing is happening in the State with respect to governance.
To the above false claims of Tony Okocha, every reasonable, right thinking and well-meaning Rivers person would effortlessly puncture all as rascality and mendacity taken too far.
Apart from the fact that Governor Siminalayi Fubara had said he is not sponsoring the massive SIMplified Movement Thanksgiving events across the Local Government Areas of the State being organised by elated Rivers people who feel liberated from an era of overbearing and suppressive form of leadership in the State, Tony Okocha should be asked to prove his false claim with indisputable facts and figures. Until then, let Tony Okocha respect himself and learn to keep quiet as an elderly person who is saddled with such a responsible position as Rivers State Representative in the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) Board. A position that places a huge responsibility on him to ensure that the core objectives of the commission are actualised in the State, by not only ensuring that Rivers State gets its fair share of its dues in terms of projects, programmes and activities, but by synergising with the state government on development matters concerning the state vis-a-vis the responsibilities of NDDC to the State. In summary, the SIMplified Movement is all about a happy and joyful people of Rivers State who have decided to stand and stick together to defend and uphold their common heritage and patrimony. It is a voluntary venture, not sponsored by the government.
To his claim that the Governor has withheld Local Government funds, Mr Tony Okocha should also be asked to prove that with facts and figures and explain why the Governor would do such. More so, what is Tony Okocha’s business, assuming, but not conceding, that a PDP Governor withholds money against PDP-led 23 Local Government authorities? Did Local Government workers across the state complain to Okocha, the meddlesome hireling, an acclaimed APC Caretaker Committee Chairman in Rivers State?
On his ignorant and false claim that the Governor runs the government without input from the state exco, Okocha, the busybody wannabe should explain how he was employed or engaged as the spokesperson of members of the Rivers State Executive Council. He should also tell us his source of information to that effect, if it is not just a proof that he is making himself known as a perpetually irredeemable hireling notoriously good for playing the spoiler’s role.
On Mr Okocha’s assertion, probably, borne out of lack of more convincing lies, that nothing is happening in the State with respect to governance, is sure a proof that the man is only acting a bad and an unsellable script to justify the reward of expected gratifying filthy lucre, which is the compelling reason for condescending so low and evilly so. How else is governance measured, if not by executing meaningful and impactful projects, giving hope, inspiring and putting smiles on the faces of the people with joy of fulfilment in their hearts, both civil servants and everyone living and doing business in the State? Is Okocha blind to see and deaf to hear of the good works of the Governor Fubara led Rivers State Government? Civil servants are happy, teachers are highly elated. Several projects are ongoing. Investors are trooping in. The health sector, education, agriculture, sports have been highly boosted under Governor Fubara-led administration. To Okocha, there’s no governance in the State because patronage of free money is not getting to him from the Governor but from other sources that are likely against the Governor.
Let Tony Okocha weep more. Rivers State is breathing fresh air already and is liberated.
Let Tony Okocha tell us how he has, so far, as Rivers State Representative in the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), clearly effected development in the State through the NDDC, and why he lied that there was Cholera outbreak with deaths recorded in Soku in Akuku-Toru Local Government Area with the intent of raking in about ¦ N5billion for non-existent mitigation programmes?
Odike is Special Assistant to Rivers State Governor on Social/New Media .
Bernard C. Idike
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Day Asari-Toru Declared Massive Support For Fubara



Franklin Delano Roosevelt, commonly known as FDR, was an American statesman and politician who served as the 32nd President of the United States from 1933 until his death in 1945. He was a member of the Democratic Party and is the only United States President to have served more than two terms.
In one of his popular quotes, he said, “The creed of our democracy is that liberty is acquired and kept by men and women who are strong and self-reliant, and possessed of such wisdom as God gives mankind – men and women who are just, and understanding, and generous to others — men and women who are capable of disciplining themselves. For they are the rulers and they must rule themselves.”
This explains the recent gathering of creme la creme of Asari-Toru political gladiators converged at the inauguration of the Simplified Movement, ASALGA chapter to reiterate their unflinching support for the Rivers State Governor, His Excellency, Sir Siminalayi Fubara whose mantra revolves around liberation.
The event which took place at the Autograph in Port Harcourt on the 1st of March, 2024, to galvanise strong support for Governor Fubara attracted over 500 members of the Simplified Movement from the Asari-Toru Local Government Area of Rivers State.
The gathering of supporters of Governor Fubara’s government, under the umbrella of the Simplified Movement, the ASALGA chapter led by an astute politician, former member of the Federal House of Representatives and two- time member of the Rivers State Executive Council as Commissioner, Chief Hon. Paworiso Samuel Horsfall comprised both the old and young generation political helmsmen drawn from all the 13 Wards of the local government area.
The nerve-““““““wracking gathering had the likes of the 1999 democratic system pioneer Chairman of Asari-Toru Local Government Council and former two-time Special Adviser to ex-Governor Nyesom Wike, Hon. Opakirite Mackson Jackreece; former member of the House of Representatives, Hon. Adokiye Young-Harry; former member of the State House of Assembly, Hon. Daisy West and former Special Adviser to ex-Governor Nyesom Wike, Chief Hon. Iboroma Norman Wokoma.
Others were the incumbent Vice Chairman of Asari-Toru Local Government Council, Hon. (Mrs.) Tekena Wokoma; former Commissioner of the Rivers State Independent Electoral Commission, Hon. Dr. Hope Barango; the South-West Vice Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Dr. Sule Amachree and the Secretary of the Local Government chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Hon. Cladious Princewill; former Chief of Staff of Council, Hon. Ajumogobia West and former Chairman of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), ASALGA, Hon. Onari Awo Tariah.
Also present at the event were past caretaker committee chairmen of the Local Government Council including, Hon. Waite Harry, Hon. Dawari Hamilton Ibinabo, Hon. Wright Warmate and former Deputy Mayor of the Port Harcourt City Council, Hon. Adokiye Horsfall amongst others. My humble self belongs to the movement. The list is inexhaustible.
Speaking at the inauguration, the member representing Asari-Toru/Akuku-Toru Federal Constituency and leader of the Asari-Toru political family, Hon. Boma Goodhead assured the people of the commitment of the Rivers State Governor, Sir Siminalayi Fubara to extend visible dividends of democracy to the people of ASALGA.
The federal lawmaker who spoke through her representative, Dr. Sule Amachree, said Governor Fubara means well for Rivers people, particularly the people of ASALGA and urged them to remain calm, peaceful and resolute in their support to the administration of the State Governor.
“His Excellency, Sir Siminalayi Fubara is the Governor ordained by God to liberate Rivers people from the snares of poverty and oppression. He is God-sent to bring visible and even development to Rivers State and Asari-Toru people are on the top of that agenda of development,” she said.
Hon. Goodhead reiterated her confidence in the capacity of the leader of the Simplified Movement, ASALGA chapter, Chief Hon. Paworiso Samuel Horsfall to mobilise massive support and a huge source of encouragement for the Government of Sir Siminalayi Fubara to succeed.
“I urge you to continue to stand firm with our Governor. Be rest assured that His Excellency, Sir Siminalayi Fubara is a man of peace, focused and determined to deliver on the mandate given to him by the people of Rivers State. He will not fail you,” she said.
In his speech, the leader of the ASALGA chapter of the Simplified Movement, Chief Hon. Paworiso Samuel Horsfall described the movement as a child of necessity born out of the hunger of Rivers people for a paradigm shift from oppression to liberation.
“As witnessed across the length and breadth of Rivers State, the Simplified Movement is a child of necessity, born out of the hunger for a paradigm shift from oppression to liberation, with one core objective to promote and defend the interests of Rivers State and her people. It is on this account, we stand as dependable allies giving strong support to the Executive Governor, His Excellency, Sir Siminalayi Fubara in his pursuit of peace and commitment to the genuine development of Rivers State.
“It is our position that with the elections come and gone, it is practically a time to face governance and to ensure deliverables of dividends to the people of Rivers State in the atmosphere of peace, security and stability,” he said.
Chief Samuel Horsfall explained that Rivers people saw the leadership qualities needed to achieve the sole objective to genuinely defend and promote the interest of the State in Governor Fubara, hence the spontaneous massive support expressed in the birth of the Simplified Movement.
He recounted avalanche of achievements made by Governor Fubara within six months in office. “We appreciate the Governor of Rivers State, His Excellency, Sir Siminalayi Fubara for his resilience and determination to make a difference. It is on record and attestable by all, the numerous projects being executed by his administration.
“Such as the ongoing construction of the gigantic Port Harcourt Ring Road project, the 20,000 housing units for low income earners, the Ogoni-Andoni-Opobo-Nkoro Unity road, the near completion of the 10km Old Port Harcourt-Bori road, the Emohua-Kalabari road, the 6.5km Woji-Alesa-Refinery link road and the inclusion of the remaining part of the Trans-Kalabari road project in the 2024 budget. “Moreover, the promotion of the State civil servants, first time in history payment of N100,000.00 Christmas bonus to civil servants across board, approval of promotions and implementation of N30,000.00 minimum wage for local government workers and the N4 billion single digit interest loans facility for Small and Medium Scale business operators in Rivers State. All these achievements within six months in office are eloquent testimonies of Governor Fubara to deliberately improve the welfare of Rivers people.
“We are convinced that such a proven great mind and well experienced, tested and trusted administrator/technocrat, Governor Fubara has demonstrated the capacity to deliver effectively the needed democratic dividends to Rivers people. It is on this convention we are gathered here for the umpteenth time to reaffirm our unalloyed support and commitment to his administration,” Chief Samuel Horsfall declared.
He disclosed that the gathering was to put in place citizens mobilisation strategy to forge a collaborative bond with the Governor to foster partnership for the development of ASALGA and the State. He, therefore, advised those he called detractors of Governor Fubara’s administration to desist forthwith and allow the Governor to remain focused in his quest to deliver on his mandate.
“All detractors should desist from further attacks on the Governor and the Chief of Staff, Government House, Rt. Hon. Edison Ehie and allow the Governor to focus on the delivery of the good policies and programmes to Rivers people. We unequivocally condemn attempts by disgruntled Abuja politicians to employ intimidation antics against the former Speaker of the 10th State Assembly and current Chief of Staff, Government House, Rt. Hon. Edison Ehie and others who are standing on the path of justice and good conscience for the collective good of Rivers State.
“We equally urge the Nigerian Police and other security agencies to be discreet in the discharge of their constitutional responsibilities in the State and not to allow themselves to be used by selfish individuals who do not mean well to fuel political crisis in Rivers State.
Chief Samuel Horsfall also commended the federal lawmaker, Hon. Boma Goodhead for her doggedness and resilience in supporting Governor Fubara since the wake of the political crisis in the State.
Several other personalities spoke to express their support to the State Governor and urged the people to ASALGA to maintain their peaceful disposition and remain steadfast in the Simplified Movement to give the state government maximum support to continue to render good governance to Rivers people.
Highlights of the event were the inauguration of the elders and stakeholders of the Simplified Movement for the 13 Wards as well as the executive committee of the movement in Asari-Toru Local Government Area.

Amieyeofori Ibim

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