NLNG Trains Women Journalists

Mohammed Shosanya

Nigeria LNG Limited concluded another edition in the series of #NLNGChangeYourStory workshops,focusing on arming women journalists with cutting-edge digital communication and social media skills for reporting gender-based issues.

The annual capacity-building workshop, themed Gender Active, convened women journalists from diverse editorial sections and Nigeria Association of Women Journalists (NAWOJ) members in Lagos.

The workshop, sponsored by NLNG, focused on mobile and multimedia journalism, providing participants with a comprehensive learning experience.

Speaking,Mr. Andy Odeh, NLNG’s General Manager, External Relations and Sustainable Development, emphasised that the focus on gender-related journalism aligns with NLNG’s commitment to Diversity, Equality, and Inclusiveness, both within and outside the organisation.

He highlighted the crucial role of women journalists in shaping narratives and influencing public opinion for a better Nigeria.

“Our dedication to capacity building stems from the belief in the immense potential of women journalists. Recognising their pivotal role in shaping narratives, influencing public opinion, and contributing to sustainable development goals, we empower them with essential skills to reshape their stories and, consequently, mould the stories of our nation,” said Mr. Odeh.

He emphasised the workshop’s significance in empowering women journalists with essential skills in the dynamic landscape of digital communication and social media, stating that the #NLNGChangeYourStory workshop, initiated in 2015, reflects NLNG’s vision of embracing new technologies and platforms to articulate narratives that resonate in the fast-paced digital age.

Mr. Odeh added that the workshop manifested NLNG’s belief that stakeholders are integral contributors to the Company’s journey towards greater heights.

Speaking at the event, the National Chairperson of NAWOJ, Aisha Bura Ibrahim, represented by the association’s National Deputy Chairperson, Lilian Okonkwo-Ogabu, stated that women journalists need to be positioned for the future in reporting the realiites of women and children, especially the girl-child, in Nigeria.

She commended NLNG for supporting the women with digital communication skills that will bring them to par with contemporaries around the world.

Poor Funding Will Frustrate Effective Implementation Of FOI Act-MRA

Mohammed Shosanya

The Media Rights Agenda (MRA) today expressed deep concern over the poor level of funding in the Federal Government’s 2024 budget for the implementation of the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act and FOI-related activities by public institutions.

It said the situation signals the government’s lack of commitment to make the Law effective.

Announcing the release of its 18-page report titled “A Vote Against Transparency: A Report on Allocations for Freedom of Information Implementation in 2024 Federal Budget”,the group implored the Federal Government to demonstrate an absolute commitment to the full and effective implementation of the FOI Act by allocating the appropriate resources required for this purpose.

According to MRA, its analysis of the 2024 Federal Government budget proposal showed that out of at least 1,316 Federal public institutions, only 10 made specific allocations for FOI implementation or other FOI-related activities in their proposals, describing the situation as an indication that the FOI Act is likely to experience another year of extremely poor performance in its implementation by government institutions and authorities.

It noted that the situation in the 2024 budget is only slightly better than what was recorded in the 2023 budget in which only nine Federal ministries, departments and agencies made specific allocations for FOI-related activities and implementation in their budget proposals.

The 10 public institutions with allocations for FOI-related expenditure in their 2024 budgets are: the National Directorate of Employment, Federal Ministry of Works, Federal Ministry of Budget and Economic Planning, Federal Ministry of Housing and Urban Development, Federal Ministry of Environment, Office of the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation, Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment, Nigerian Law Reform Commission, National Library of Nigeria, and the National Commission for Colleges of Education Secretariat.

The Federal Ministry of Works has the highest budgetary allocation for FOI implementation with a total of N39,280,000.00, while the Nigerian Law Reform Commission had the second highest allocation with a proposal to spend N15,634,545 on FOI-related activities.

MRA’s Communications Officer, Mr. Idowu Adewale, observed in the organization’s statement that a crucial consideration in ensuring the effectiveness of an FOI Law is making provisions in the budget for its implementation as this helps to ensure that the resources required to successfully implement the Law are made available.

He said:“Without adequate investment in the implementation of the Law in order to ensure that the government is transparent and accountable, all other allocations and expenditures for infrastructure, facilities or other development projects would be at risk and could easily be misappropriated.”

Mr. Adewale argued that :“The long-term benefits which the effective implementation of the FOI Act can bring to the country and its democratic process, include enhancing government transparency, efficiency and responsiveness; engendering greater public participation in governance, improving public trust and confidence in government, ensuring that members of the public have accurate and reliable information about how they are governed, and contributing to the emergence of a knowledge society”, adding that these are adequate justification for the investments required to make the Act effective.

He said it was curious that although the last report by Mr. Abubakar Malami (SAN), then Attorney-General of the Federation, which was issued on March 27, 2023, identified “inadequate or non-financial provisions to fund FOI Act activities” and a “general lack of funding for FOI activities in some public institutions” as some of the challenges impeding the effective implementation of the FOI Act, there were no concrete measures taken by the Federal Government to address the problem.

Mr. Adewale identified the absence of any specific allocation for FOI-related activities in the budget of the Federal Ministry of Justice and the Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation, as a significant concern, given the dual status of the Ministry as a public institution to which the FOI Act applies and as the body with oversight responsibility for the implementation of the Law.

Saying its funding and budgets ought to clearly reflect its dual roles and should be adequate to enable it to meet its duties and obligations with respect to each of the roles, he called on the Federal Government to provide proper guidance for public institutions on some of the considerations and steps that they need to take into account in allocating resources for FOI implementation and in ensuring that the resources are adequate.

Mr. Adewale urged the Federal Government to direct its ministries, departments and agencies to ensure that in preparing their budget proposals for subsequent fiscal years, they make provisions in the budgets to enable them carry out the full range of duties and obligations that they have under the FOI Act and also prescribe a minimum level of resources which every public institution should allocate to the implementation of the Act in order to ensure that they are fully implementing the Law and complying with its provisions.

MRA Tasks President Tinubu On Protection Of Journalists

Mohammed Shosanya

Media Rights Agenda (MRA) has implored President Bola Tinubu to ensure the safety of journalists in Nigeria and bring an end to impunity for crimes against journalists by ensuring that Government officials and non-state actors who attack journalists are appropriately punished in accordance with the law.

Its Executive Director, Mr. Edetaen Ojo, said: “On the occasion of this year’s International Day to End Impunity for Crimes Against Journalists, we remain extremely concerned that in spite of numerous and frequently recurring cases of attacks against journalists in Nigeria, with at least 19 journalists killed over the years, no one has ever been charged with any crime for such attacks or punished for such offenses, with the result that Nigeria appears to be suggesting that attacking or killing journalists is acceptable and will attract no consequences.”

It noted that it is now 10 years since the United Nations General Assembly proclaimed November 2 of every year as the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists by Resolution 68/163 on “The safety of journalists and the issue of impunity”, which it adopted on December 18, 2013 at its 68th session.

The organisation explained that in the resolution, the UN General Assembly urged all Member States, including Nigeria, “to do their utmost to prevent violence against journalists and media workers, to ensure accountability through the conduct of impartial, speedy and effective investigations into all alleged violence against journalists and media workers falling within their jurisdiction and to bring the perpetrators of such crimes to justice and ensure that victims have access to appropriate remedies.”

It noted that the General Assembly also called upon States to promote a safe and enabling environment for journalists to perform their work independently and without undue interference, including by means of legislative measures; awareness-raising in the judiciary and among law enforcement officers and military personnel, as well as among journalists and in civil society, regarding international human rights and humanitarian law obligations and commitments relating to the safety of journalists; the monitoring and reporting of attacks against journalists; publicly condemning attacks; and dedicating the resources necessary to investigate and prosecute such attacks.

It regretted that over the last 10 years, the Federal Government had not taken any discernible measure towards fulfilling any single one of these requirements, even as attacks against journalists and other media workers have continued unabated and with impunity, including the repeated occurrence of some of the specific acts condemned by the resolution, such as torture, extrajudicial killings, physical violence against journalists, arbitrary detention, intimidation and harassment, among others.

Mr. Ojo said: “Under the current administration, the need to put in place mechanisms to ensure the safety of journalists ought not to be a difficult case to make. As a media owner, President Tinubu must certainly be personally aware of the important role that the media play in ensuring an informed citizenry and the emergence of a knowledgeable society, in providing members of the public with critical information that they require to make important decisions in their lives and in upholding the responsibility and accountability of the government to the people as well as the fact that the work of journalists often puts them at risk of intimidation, harassment and violence.”

According to him, “It is our hope that being better informed about these issues than his predecessors in office, the President will direct the relevant officials and agencies in his Administration to take necessary steps and work with other media stakeholders, including media professional bodies and civil society organizations, to establish a national mechanism for ensuring the safety of journalists and ending impunity for crimes against journalists.”

CISLAC Trains Journalists On Anti-Graft Reporting In Defence Sector

Mohammed Shosanya

The Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC),has trained journalists on effective reporting in the defence and security sector.

Senior Programme Person, Peace and Security CISLAC, Bertha Ogbimi during a one-day Media Dialogue on “Effective Oversight and Defence Anti Corruption Reportage” in Abuja, noted that the workshop is aimed at empowering journalists to effectively oversight the defence sector by asking the right questions to inform the public.

She explained that the workshop was also to know how to seek accountability and transparency in the sector where they fell short of best practices.

Ogbimi maintained that specialization would enable journalists to focus on specific aspects of the security sector, thereby enhancing their ability to uncover crucial information and hold relevant authorities accountable.

According to her, “Nigeria is bedevilled by multi dimensional security challenges and because of these, a lot of allocations have been launched into the defence and security sector.

”One would expect that normally, with the amount of monies being channelled to the defence and security sector, the issues pertaining to insecurity would have been addressed.

“However, unfortunately, we see an upsurge in these challenges. As a matter of fact, a particular area called conflict entrepreneurship is booming.

“So you begin to wonder, why are we getting a counter reaction when we are putting in so much money.

“Sometimes you get to talk with security personnel, and they tell you that they do not have what it takes to challenge armed opposition groups.”

She added that although a lot of money was allocated in the defence and security budgets and allocations but the welfare of security personnel has remained a challenge.

“So some questions need to be asked, because the money is our taxpayers money and so we need some answers.We are not saying that the security operations and procurements and the finances of security institutions should be made completely bare

“We recognize the fact that there is such a thing as natural security, we are all patriotic citizens, we cannot bare our military in the public.What are those information that are not detrimental to national security that could be made available for citizens to truly understand where their taxpayers monies are going?

Ogbimi said that given the fact that the insecurity kept increasing rather than reducing, it behoves of journalists to get answers to the critical questions.

She said this would help stakeholders in the defence and security sector play their roles and carry out their mandate effectively because the know they are being watched.

She said that this would help the security of Nigeria to fall in place.

Dangote Trains Northwest Journalists

Mohammed Shosanya

Dangote Group on Thursday in Kano commenced a two day training programme for 50 newsmen drawn from Northwest, Nigeria.

The two day workshop which has as its theme: Ethics, Skills and Personal Qualities for Reporting in the Digital Age, and it is being coordinated by the Centre for Financial Journalism in Nigeria.

The spokesman of Dangote Group, Mr. Anthony Chiejina, explained that the annual workshop is one in the series of others that have been conducted over the years, and in all the Geo-political zones of the country.

He said the training in Kano is also a reflection of the harmonious relationship between the Dangote Group and the Nigerian Media.

Mr. Chiejina said: “The members of the fourth estate of the realm are our partners in progress. We need each other for Nigeria to develop. I am very sure that the theme for this year on Reporting in Digital Age will change their lives, as it is being handled by seasoned journalists and communication experts.”

Chief Executive of the Centre for Financial Journalism Dr. Ray Echebiri said journalists can only be relevant when they continue to improve themselves via such training programmes.

A resource person, Mrs Aisha Sule urged journalists not to relent in building themselves, and said the collaboration with the Dangte Group and o ther staekholders should be sustained.

A participant and chairman of the Nigerian Union of Journalist(NUJ) in Kano, Mr. Abbas Ibrahim commended the company for the exercise, while urging other participants to leverage the knowledge from the training to develop themselves.

Ibadan Media Outfit To Launch Online Radio

Mohammed Shosanya

Moac Global Media,a news and entertainment service provider, based in Ibadan, is set to launch its online radio service.

Its proprietor and Chief Executive Officer,Mr. Michael Olu Abi Coker,said the media outfit seeks to satisfy its teeming audience with new contents at the dial of a button on their devices.

He disclosed that the media outfit has concluded preparations to kick-start Power365 FM for listeners in the country and the diaspora.

He said listeners can access the live audio feed for Power365FM, an expansion of MOACTV through a simple download of its app from any mobile phone.

He said the new online platform will live stream events, while interactive content, where listeners can call in, will be made available too.

According to him,listeners will also have an option of switching to MOACTV on the same app, after download, while an option to hear popular programs they may have missed due to the difference in time zone will be considered.

“Power365 FM will be the world’s largest online radio and a leading provider of interactive mobile applications for listeners. With its proprietary “HD” voice technology, MOAC Global lovers can connect to either our radio and television channels around the world”, he said.

Moac Global Media, an independent channel founded in 2021,currently reaches an audience of over 200, 000 people throughout Africa and the world.

NLNG Restates Commitment To Empowerment Of Nigerian Journalists

Mohammed Shosanya

The Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas Limited,has restated its commitment to empowering journalists with the tools and skills needed to effectively convey stories that resonate with the Nigerian populace in the current digital age.

Mr Andy Odeh, NLNG’s General Manager of External Relations and Sustainable Development,disclosed this at the completion of the second edition of the company’s 2023 #NLNGChangeYourStory workshop in Abuja.

Mr Odeh reiterated NLNG’s belief in fostering symbiotic relationships with its stakeholders, recognising their indispensable role in the company’s current and future success.

“The growth and triumph of NLNG’s stakeholders are inextricably tied to the company’s growth, and thus, capacity building remains a cornerstone of NLNG’s commitment to collective progress. NLNG’s dedication to capacity building is not mere rhetoric but a tangible commitment that bolsters the growth and success of both stakeholders and the nation. It is also in line with our vision of being a globally competitive LNG company helping to build a better Nigeria,” he said.

He added that NLNG’s quest for sustainability led to the recognition of digital communication and social media as the future of the media. He stated that the workshop was initiated in 2015 when eight journalists participated in the first #NLNGChangeYourStory workshop.

The workshop, delivered by seasoned journalist Mr Dan Mason in collaboration with The Journalism Clinic, led by Mr Taiwo Obe, proved to be a transformative experience for the participating journalists. Leveraging their wealth of knowledge and experience, these experts adeptly guided participants through the nuances of digital communication and social media, empowering them to take control of their narratives and shape the nation’s stories.

From 1st August to 3rd August 2023, the annual capacity-building workshop brought together a diverse group of more than 25 journalists from various editorial sections in Abuja.

The event, fully sponsored by NLNG, focused on mobile and multimedia journalism, offering participants a comprehensive learning experience.

#NLNGChangeYourStory workshop has benefited over 90 journalists since 2015, reinforcing their digital communication and social media competencies. The workshop is an inspiring testament to the transformative power of state-of-the-art training. Journalists emerge equipped with the confidence and skills to embrace digital communication and social media.

NBC Wants Court To Void Verdict Stopping Fines On Broadcast Stations

The National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) has filed a motion at a Federal High Court in Abuja asking the court to set aside its May 10, 2023 judgment in which it, among other things, issued an order of perpetual injunction restraining the Commission from further imposing fines on radio and televisions stations.

In the motion filed on its behalf by Mr. Babatunde Ogala (SAN), the Commission is asking the court to set aside the judgment, claiming that the court lacked jurisdiction to render the verdict and that it arrived at the decision in ignorance of relevant facts.

The verdict arose from a suit instituted by Abuja-based lawyer, Mr. Noah Ajare, on behalf of Media Rights Agenda (MRA), challenging the powers of the NBC to fine broadcasters, following a March 1, 2019 announcement by the then Director General of the Commission, Mallam Ishaq Kawu, that the Commission had imposed a fine of N500,000 each on 45 broadcast stations for alleged contraventions of the Nigeria Broadcasting Code.

In his judgment delivered on May 10, 2023, Justice James Omotosho ruled that fines are sanctions imposed on a person who has been found guilty of a criminal offence and that the law in Nigeria, only Courts of law are empowered to impose sanctions for criminal offences. In setting aside the fines of N500,000 each imposed on the stations, he held that the NBC “is neither a Court nor a judicial tribunal to make pronouncements on the guilt of broadcast stations notwithstanding what the NBC Code says,” adding that the Commission’s action violated the Constitution.

Contrary to the finding of the judge in his judgment that the NBC “was served with the Originating Summons on 24th February, 2022 and served with several hearing notices but failed to file any process”, the Commission is alleging that the originating summons in the suit, which led to the judgment, was not served on it.

It is also claiming that MRA “has two un-appealed, subsisting and binding decisions of the Federal High Court on the same issues and parties” and that rather than appeal those decisions, it brought a fresh suit, setting the Court on a collision course with decisions of the other Federal High Court in the same complex.

The NBC cited in support of its claim a suit filed by MRA in 2021 against the NBC in which the organization challenged the constitutionality and legality of the Commission’s action on May 27, 2020 in imposing fines of N250,000 on Breeze FM radio, based in Lafia, Nazarawa State; N500,000 on Adaba FM radio in Akure, Ondo State; and N250,000 on Albarka FM radio in Ilorin, Kwara State. Justice Obiora Atuegwu Egwuatu delivered judgment on March 2, 2023, dismissing the suit.

It also cited another suit brought against NBC by seven organisations, namely the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), the Centre for Journalism Innovation and Development (CJID), MRA, HEDA Resource Centre, the International Centre for Investigating Reporting (ICIR), the African Centre for Media and Information Literacy (AFRICMIL), and Premium Times.

In that suit, the seven organizations challenged the NBC’s imposition of fines of N3 million each on Channels Television, Arise Television and the Africa Independent Television (AIT) over their coverage of the ENDSARs protests as well as another imposition of a fine of N5 million on Nigeria Info 99.3 by the NBC without giving the stations an opportunity to respond any allegation against them. Justice Nkeonye Maha delivered judgment in the suit on April 26, 2022, dismissing the suit.

The NBC is claiming that these suits and their outcome was not brought to the attention of court and that if the court had been aware of them, it would have reached a different decision in its May 10, 2023 judgment.

Justice Omotosho fixed hearing of the motion for October 5, 2023

Obey Court Order Stopping Fine On Broadcast Station,Media Group Tells NBC

Mohammed Shosanya

The Media Rights Agenda MRA,has advised the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) to comply fully with the orders of Justice James Omotosho of the Federal High Court in Abuja which restrained it from further imposing fines on radio and televisions stations.

The group said if the commission intends to appeal the verdict,it should expedite action on same devoid of walking the path of lawlessness.

MRA,in a statement,said its attention had been drawn to a statement credited to NBC Director General, Mallam Balarabe Shehu llelah, vowing that “The Commission will appeal against the judgement when it is found to be in conflict with previous judgements of the court, which empowers the Commission to regulate broadcasting in Nigeria (sic)”

MRA’s Executive Director, Mr. Edetaen Ojo, said : “We recognize and respect the right of the NBC to appeal against the judgment of the Court, if it is dissatisfied with the decision, so long as it does not flout the orders of the court when those orders have not been set aside by an appellate court. Whatever the NBC’s view of the Court’s judgment may be, it cannot deny that there is a valid and subsisting order of a court of competent jurisdiction prohibiting it from imposing fines on radio and television stations.

“Should the Commission or its Director-General take it upon themselves to sit on appeal over the judgment of the Court and disobey the clear and unequivocal orders of the Court, we wish to reassure them that we would take immediate and vigorous action to maintain the integrity of the court and its orders.”

He maintained that the NBC Director-General’s statement amounts to a feeble attempt to mislead the public.

He said:”We do not dispute the power or authority of the NBC to regulate broadcasting in Nigeria and we have not challenged its right to do so. That was not the issue before the court. But this does not make the Commission a court of law and neither the National Broadcasting Commission Act, as amended, nor the Nigeria Broadcasting Code can be interpreted to confer judicial powers on the NBC to impose criminal sanctions on radio and television stations in flagrant violation of the Constitution, as Justice James Omotosho stated so eloquently in his judgment.”

He noted that besides being a correct interpretation of the provisions of the Constitution, the decision of Justice Omotosho is also consistent with international standards for the regulation of broadcast media as contained, for instance, in Principle 17(5) of the Declaration of Principles on Freedom of Expression and Access to Information in Africa, which states that: “The powers of regulatory bodies shall be administrative in nature and shall not seek to usurp the role of the courts.”

According to him, the provisions of the Declaration are binding on Nigeria and its institutions, being an affirmation of the principles for anchoring the rights to freedom of expression and access to information in accordance with Article 9 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, an international human rights instrument to which Nigeria is a State Party, and which also forms part of Nigerian Law, having been domesticated in Nigeria by the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act, Cap A9, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.

He said: “We appreciate that the NBC cannot be happy that we have shut down this major source of revenue for the Commission, but we urge it to tread the path of constitutionalism and the rule of law and obey the orders of a court of competent jurisdiction, established by the Constitution, especially if it expects individuals and entities subject to its regulatory authority to comply with its own lawful directives. The NBC will be courting anarchy should it decide to disregard the court’s orders.”

Stop Declaring Election Results, NBC Cautions Broadcast Stations

The National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) has cautioned broadcasting stations in Nigeria to stop declaring election results.

It said such power is only within the jurisdiction of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

The commission ordered all broadcasting stations to end all partisan political programmes by 11:59 pm on Thursday 23 February, 2023.

Director of Broadcast Monitoring, NBC,Francisca Aiyetan, who conveyed the order in a statement,reiterated that stations can announce the result only after a formal announcement of the results has been made by the electoral umpire himself.

Reaffirming how stringent the order is,the regular implored all broadcasters not to flaunt the order. It, therefore, challenged them to ensure adherence to the ethics and codes of the commission by stopping every commercial on their stations 24 hours prior to election day.

“The National Broadcasting Commission wishes to underscore the enormous responsibility trust on Broadcasters at this period and therefore calls for strict adherence to the provisions of the Nigeria Broadcasting Code and the Electoral Act in order to ensure a sane airwave that will enable a free, fair, credible and transparent Election,” NBC added.

It also stated that no station is allowed to broadcast any political campaign or advertisement on its facilities 24 hours preceding polling day or on polling day.

It added:“The Broadcaster shall not use any vote obtained at a polling station or from exit poll, to project or speculate on the chances of a candidate. The Broadcaster shall relay Election Results or declaration of the winner only as announced by the authorised Electoral Officer for the election.”