Wednesday, 2 November 2016

Security Measures and Safety of Journalists

Members of the high table 
The need for journalists to take safety measures seriously while carrying out their duties was reiterated on Wednesday, the day which marked the 2016 World Day for Safety of Journalists. The theme for the event was Jobs Hazards and Implications for Journalists. The event which was observed across the world was also marked in major cities across the country. In the Lagos axis, the event was held at the Lagos Chambers of Commerce and Industry. The event which was organized by the Managing Editor of Safety and Security Watch Magazine, Dr. Chinyere Amaechi, was attended by a cream of journalists and security experts.
Former Director of Safety, Nigeria Airports Authority, Engineer Peter Oyere who Chaired the occasion, opened the conference with reference to his wife. According to Mr. Oyere, when he told his wife about the event, his wife was surprised and that when he asked his wife why she was surprised she said she remembered Dele Giwa. Papers were presented and speeches were also made on various aspects of safety and security measures to equip the journalists in performing their statutory duties without incurring injuries or being killed.

Dr. Chinyere Amaechi who commenced the discussion, called on media owners to promote the welfare of journalists. Mr. Ehi Eden, a security and safety expert, presented a paper on Job Hazards and Safety Measures. While delivering his paper, he said Dele Giwa was killed in order to destroy the truth. He advised journalists to be impartial and neutral while reporting in conflicts and disaster areas. He adjured journalists to know the risks associated with their duty and manage such risks in a manner that would not jeopardize their lives. He stated that in a bid to be the first to break the news, journalists unconsciously endangered their lives. He cautioned journalists to protect their lives as a dead journalist couldn’t report breaking news. He asked journalists to take a Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) mental exercise to erase grisly images from their minds. According to the security expert, photojournalists, video editors and other journalists could be traumatized by the grisly images they see. He made allusion to Kelvin Carter, a onetime renowned photojournalist who later committed suicide because he couldn’t expunge from his mind the bad images of the atrocities committed against humanity during the Sudanese war.
He further said journalists could be traumatized physically or psychologically owing to the unfair treatment they receive from their employers and the public. He named other hazards confronting journalists as poor working environment, insomnia, stress, fatigue and assault. He stated that Iraq, Syria, Turkey as the countries with the highest death rates of journalists. He counselled media owners to train journalists regularly on safety measures and also provide trackers on journalists’ cars for security purposes. He craved for medical and insurance covers  and better remuneration for journalists. 
Another resource person, Mrs. Monica Nwosu, advised journalists to get a copy of a book entitled: Reporters Without Borders. According to Mrs. Nwosu, the book contained all the things journalists needed about security and safety. She called for a collaboration between the Nigerian Union of Journalists and the Institute of Safety Professionals of Nigeria for a better working conditions for the journalists. The Secretary-General of United Nations, Mr. Bank Kimo who was ably represented by Mr. Oluseyi Soremekun, presented a paper entitled: Message On The International Day To End Impunity For Crimes Against Journalists, in which he stated that attacks on journalists was a violation of the human rights of the individuals which undermined freedom of information and expression across societies. He described the attacks on journalist as impunity which has resulted in the deaths of 827 journalists in the last decade with only 8 percent of the perpetrators being held accountable. 
The Police Public Relations Officer of the Lagos State Police Command, Superintendent Dolapo Badmus was accompanied by Korode Bello, the “I Don Get Alert” exponent who is also the Brand Ambassador of Police is Yourself campaign. She said that news reporting in the past was based on facts and investigation but decried the modern day journalism that was based majorly on social media where everybody has become reporter and journalist in which people only cooked up stories. She challenged journalists to always verify their stories before publishing them in order to gain credibility.
About 1500 journalists died in 2015 of which 23 of them occurred in Africa.
Journalists were admonished to present a bill on operational health and safety to the National Assembly. Other participants at the event included Barrister (Mrs.) Oluwakemi Eboda, a former President of the Nigerian Union of Journalist, Chief Dele Odebiyi and Mark Agbomasa who represented Mr. Tony Momoh. 

Dr. Chinyere Amaechi
Dr. Amaechi and others
Lagos PPRO, Dolapo Badmos
Some discussants
Some discussants
Mrs. Monica Nwosu
Mr. Oluseyi Soremekun
Ayo, Dr. Amaechi and Oluseyi
Lagos PPRO, Dolapo Badmos
Ayo Baje and Ehi Eden 
Ayo Baje and Olalere Akinreti

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