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“Nigerian military did not escort foreign media to Chibok” – Major General Olukolade

15 July 2014, 11:15

The Nigerian military has denied providing special services to the foreign media to enable them to cover the Boko Haram insurgency. The accusation had been made by some journalists to explain the scanty on-the-spot reporting of the event by the Nigerian media following the April 14th abduction of over 200 school girls from their dormitory in Chibok, Borno State.

This revelation is contained in the Volume 23 No 4 issue of Media Review, a monthly assessor of the Nigerian media. Titled “The Media and Boko Haram: Under-reporting and Misreporting the Menace?”, the edition discusses the insurgency and the shortcomings of the media reporting of it.

Speaking with Media Review, Major Chris Olukolade, spokesperson of the armed forces, denied the military escorted any of the foreign media to Chibok town. “The Nigerian military did not escort any foreign media to Chibok. It is the Borno State government that has been arranging and taking journalists there for whatever reason until they were warned of the consequences”, he Said.

Olukolade’s response came on the heels of some editors’ dissatisfaction with the military. The editors had blamed their inability to independently visit Chibok on the obvious security challenges in the area and the lack of cooperation of the military to get the media embedded in its visits as it’s done in other climes.

The military spokesperson disagreed with the call for media embedment in the joint taskforce of the armed forces, saying there is no place for it in this type of conflict. “Our situation is very peculiar; we must not liken it to a normal war situation where you can define territories. This is very asymmetric. We will not take responsibility for endangering anybody’s life. Those people who have been clamouring for embedment are possibly seeing it as an entertainment or an adventure. We have designed a means of carrying the media along and that is by organizing trips occasionally. We have taken a number of practitioners (professionals) on this tour and those are the ones we can vouch to protect and take responsibility for their safety. They were chosen based on the application made and the limited spaces available”, he said.

Notwithstanding this, however, Olukolade acknowledged that the terrain and the nature of the insurgency make reporting challenging. He said he is happy with the general reporting of the crisis by the Nigerian media, even has he calls for moderation to some excesses.

In the edition, Media Review asserts that “with the development arising from the Chibok abduction reportage, it is now clear that the Nigerian media necessarily needs to reinvent itself. There is an urgent need for better sensitivity on conflicts. There is need for better engagement between the media and military/security personnel for a better understanding of the issues and better response from the citizenry for the health of the nation”.

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