Army Issues Worrisome Anti-Media Press Statement
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So yesterday Daily Trust newspaper showed a picture (see below) of the Nigerian army abusing and harassing a civilian in Nassarawa.
Within 24 hours after the image debuted on the press media and blogosphere, Acting Director Army Public Relations Colonel Sani Kukasheka Usman issued a press release stating that the culprits had been identified and would be dealt with ….
“The Nigerian Army wishes to inform the public that the perpetrators of the offence have been identified, summoned and would face disciplinary action.”
If they stopped there, that would have been brilliant, stellar even historic (given past none responses by Army on allegations of abuse). But they did not stop there, they continued with what I call a worrying attack on the press…
“The Army has also reached out to the management of the newspaper over this poor and worrisome editorial judgement by giving this misdemeanor prominence in their paper. Alerting appropriate Nigerian Army authorities would have been a better option that will be met with prompt response.”
Poor and worrisome? When did the army become a judge of the press?
Now people will gloss over this, because it was embedded in what seemed like an Army-taking-action-press-release. But statements like this worry me, because it subconsciously tells us that it is not okay to film or photograph officials abusing their position!
Even the suggestion that the press should give the pictures/video to the Army versus the public sounds plausible on paper but in reality it is dangerous, because it tells Nigerians that if they see police or army abusing their position they should carry that same evidence to that same police and army! That’s like finding video evidence of armed robbery and then sharing it with the Head of the Armed Robbery Public Relations … na so you go just disappear!
At the end of the day, I pray that this is a one off error made by an “acting” Army Public Relations officer. Because my belief is that the success of democracy depends greatly on the ability of its media to expose the truth to the public without checks and balances!
JARA: And why did the Army not address the victim? is he okay? Is he injured? Its like they wrote it to protect their image and not that of the victim they abused.
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