Events of the Year 2020: Media

Lai Mohammed, Minister for Information

THE year 2020 was a tough year for the media in Nigeria and the world at large. For some media houses, it was a year of unlawful detention and harassment of some journalists by security agencies. The outbreak of Coronavirus (COVID-19) affected the revenue flow to media organisations, resulting in lean revenues and delayed wages.

But some online publications such as Realnews Magazine managed to wade through the virus protocols to mark her anniversary in style in this year. Realnews Magazine and Publications Limited, on November 19, celebrated her eighth anniversary.

Dignitaries at the Anniversary: L-R; Mr. Lanre Alabi; Dr. Alero Roberts; Prof. Chris Bode; Maureen Chigbo; Dr. Sanni Aliu and Usman Baba

This year’s lecture was unique in that it was delivered by Boss Mustapha, secretary to the government of the federation and chairman, Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, who spoke on “Managing COVID-19 Global Pandemic in Africa: The Nigeria Experience”. It was followed by the investiture into the Realnews Hall of Fame.

The lecture had Prof. Chris Bode, Chief Medical Director, Lagos University Teaching Hospital, LUTH, as chairman, while Mele Kyari, group managing director, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, and Alero Roberts, department of community health and primary care, College of Medicine, University of Lagos, were the discussants.

The choice of the topic for 2019, according to Maureen Chigbo, publisher and editor, Realnews, was informed by the need to escalate and broaden the conversation on how best to manage natural disasters like COVID-19. She said that the lecture was one of the ways the magazine was contributing to the development of the nation by providing a forum for frank discussions by experts and influential personalities on how to manage the pandemics. She applauded the federal government and Africa indeed for surviving the predictions of the Western world over the continent.

Those inducted into the prestigious Realnews Hall of Fame, exclusively reserved for only guest speakers, discussants, Realnews book reviewers and chairpersons at the Anniversary Lecture Series are Boss Mustapha, Chris Bode, Mele Kyari and Alero Roberts.

Despite the successes recorded by Realnews and some other media organisations, the industry is still threatened with the federal government’s desire to regulate the social media. Lai Mohammed, minister of information and culture, has said that the federal government is working to inject sanity into the social media space. He explained that the social space has gone totally out of control.

“Since we inaugurated our reform of the broadcast industry, many Nigerians have reached out to us, demanding that we also look into how to sanitise the Social Media space. I can assure you that we are also working on how to inject sanity into the Social Media space which, today, is totally out of control

“No responsible government will sit by and allow fake news and hate speech to dominate its media space, because of the capacity of this menace to exploit our national fault lines to set us against each other and trigger a national conflagration. That is why we will continue to evolve ways to tackle fake news and hate speech until we banish both,’’ he said.

In the year under review, Nigerian journalists faced harassment, unlawful arrest and destruction of properties in the hands of government agencies and protesting youths. The height of the harassment and incarceration in 2020 is the case of Tom Uhia, publisher of Power Steering Magazine. On October 13, police arrested him at his residence in Gwarimpa, a suburb of Abuja, without a warrant and took him to the Force Criminal Investigation Department. He was later charged with 14 counts of alleged defamation and injurious publication.

Apart from Uhia, the police also arrested Ime Sunday Silas, publisher of The Profile. He was arrested after he arrived in the Ikot Akpan Abia district of Uyo to meet a source. On August 18, a local magistrate court charged Silas under Section 24 of Nigeria’s 2015 cyber crime act. The court also denied him bail on the same day, but his lawyers filed a new bail application on August 24, which was granted on September 10.

TVC News attack

Also on October 21, unidentified men attacked the offices of Lagos State Television and the Television Continental, TVC. The men destroyed cars outside the Lagos State Television building, causing the staff to evacuate their offices. At the TVC office, the men stole equipment and burned parts of the building. TVC, and Max FM, which occupies the same centre as TVC and is owned by the same company, all suspended broadcasting for a while before resumption of broadcasting.

Likewise, on October 21, unidentified people twice attacked the Nation Newspaper in Lagos, setting cars outside on fire, shooting guns at the building, and stealing computers and other broadcast equipment.

– Dec. 31, 2020 @ 17:46 GMT /


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