Journalists for Christ Outreach tasks media on projecting IDP issues

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By Joy Odor

The Journalists for Christ International Outreach (JFC) has tasked the media on helping in projecting Internal Displacement People’s (IDPs) issues to the public.

JFC President, Mr. Lekan Otufodunrin, handed the task when the organisation presented a report on how journalists can cover and report crimes, maltreatment and misappropriations in IDPs camps across the country, Thursday, August 20, 2020, in Abuja.

The report, titled: “Managing Internal Displacement Crisis in Nigeria” on media portrayal of Internally Displaced People (IDP) in Africa, covering Nigeria, Kenya and the Democratic Republic of Congo, was presented at a media round table.

The report was supported by World Association for Christian Communications and Waldensian Church’s Otto Per Mille (OPM), Italy, towards global best practices in guaranteeing the rights of IDPs through the Media.

Mr. Otufodunrin, in his welcome address, told the participants that the media round table was to brainstorm on the report and create a working template for officials that are directly concerned with the issues of IDPs in Nigeria and also sensitise the media the more on how they can help in projecting IDP issues to the public.

The president, who was represented by the Publisher, Church Times Newspapers, Mr Gbenga Oshinaike, expressed hope that the discussion and shared perspectives would help to push the frontiers of awareness on IDPs in Nigeria and by extension help bring an end to the challenges facing the critical aspect of lives in Nigeria.

Reviewing the report, the Director, Daily Trust Foundation, Mr Theophilus Abbah, emphasized that the culture of silence by the media on the poor treatments of IDPs has helped in deepening the crime against them.

According to him, if the media continue to refuse to expose the crimes committed upon IDPs in the camps, it would foster on in the country.

“An African proverb says ‘pregnancy can never be hidden with bare hands.’ Springing from the imagery and significance of this proverb, and in the context of internal displacements in Nigeria, one could say it corresponds with the society’s attitude to this segment of the society, though their predicament sticks out like an open sore for all to see.

“For my constituency, the media, story ideas about the plight of IDPs are so commonplace that we no longer see them. We are blind to them, until the Cable News Network (CNN), British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), Aljazirah or the Voice of America (VOA) send in special correspondents to research/investigate and produce impactful documentaries about the plight of IDPs in this country.

“But these are fundamental stories whose justification we could trace to communication theories, like development and social responsibility journalism. Because we abdicate that responsibility, foreigners come in and take the sail of the ship. Even this research under review is supported by foreigners.

“This concern is derived from the value the West attach to human life and why IDPs should never be abandoned to the elements and misfortune. To appreciate how lDPs are well treated in western countries, Nigerians especially the government need to understand how the refugee’s are taken care of, they live in apartment, allowed for scholarship, have access to healthcare, education, water and electricity while some are entitled to level of employment and integrated into host society even stand for elections but in Nigeria, the situation is totally different.”

Speaking further Abba said: “The impediment to these poor treatments of lDPs in camps are poor reporting of lDPs plight, lack of clear legislative framework which should have provided roadmap for relevant institutions on how to treat IDPs, lack of data of lDPs in Nigeria, no provisions on how journalists should cover lDPs, no provision for healthcare facilities, schools and sanitation.”

He, therefore, stressed the need to engage the specialised lDPs correspondent in an advocacy that would influence Governments policies and lead to an improved living conditions of lDPs, noting that multimedia reporting has become vital in this dispensation that technology can facilitate it.

“Journalists covering lDPs need to do strong stories that would influence Governments policies. They must be exposed to international best practices, issues and dynamics of lDPs mistreatments” he added.

Receiving the report, the Chairman of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), FCT Council, Comrade Emmanuel Ogbeche, said the report was a brilliant idea that would help in unraveling crimes in IDP camps.

The Council Chairman, who was represented by the Vice Chairman, Comrade Patrick Osadebamwen, said the report would help journalists uncover and expose illegalities and poor treatment of lDPs in camps, as well as help the governments to improve on lDPs walfare, interventions and self sustainance.

In his remarks, the JFC Project Adviser, Mr. Sammi Falobi, said the presentation of report is to build partnership to enhance the underreported crimes in lDPs camps.

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