Security agencies in Nigeria have pledged to maintain a balance between openness and national security as citizens and media organisations enjoy their right of expression.
They have, however, called on the nation’s media owners and practitioners to also maintain a middle course while reporting issues that bothers on national security.
Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, stated in a statement he released after an interactive meeting with owners and decision makers in the media at the State House Conference Centre in Abuja.
Painted by the media
According to Shehu, “The Director-General of the Department of State Services, DSS, Lawal Daura, the Director-General of the National Intelligence Agency, Ambassador Ahmed Rufa’i Abubakar and the Chief of Defence Staff, General Gabriel Olonisakin, gave assurances that the security situation in the country was within the control of the government and that this can be helped where the media reduced sensation from their daily coverage. In their own assessment, our state of national security is not as bad as it is painted by the media.”
In seeking support from the media towards the achievement of security for everyone, the heads of the agencies emphasised that sharing and coordination among security agencies and the media is essential to counter the ever-changing threats faced by the nation.
“The Security chieftains expressed the particular worry that there are groups in the country with evil designs to disrupt the processes leading to the 2019 general elections in the hope of creating a stalemate. They warned the media against the activities of some unregistered groups that have lately been active in trying to undermine critical institutions such the law-enforcement agencies and the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC. The security heads also called for closer cooperation from the media to prevent terrorists and radical ideologies directed from abroad from undermining the ongoing efforts to restore security in parts of the country facing the challenges of terrorism, economic sabotage, criminality, farmers-herdsmen clashes and the spread of illegal weapons,” He stated.
The Presidential Spokesperson said the Director General of the Narional Intelligence Agency NIA, Ahmed Abubakar in a special submission, appealed for media support to enable the agency to reform and remain focused on tackling the challenges of international nature facing the nation, which included terrorism and violent extremism manifested in activities of Boko Haram (BH), ISIS, AQIM, Al Shabaab, Al Qaeda, Ansaru, among others.
Abubakar said the nation also faced threats from the human trafficking and illegal migration, smuggling, slavery, forced labour, prostitutions, drugs trafficking, activities of drug cartels and their networks, as well as trafficking in small arms and light weapons (SALW).
Garba Shehu also revealed in the statement that “The intelligence and security chieftains also expressed the view that the Nigerian media has a role in securing Nigeria’s national interest.”