- Say online rumours threat to national security
Paul Obi in Abuja
The Nigerian Defence Headquarters (DHQ) and the Office of the National Security Adviser (NSA) tuesday warned against politicisation of security matters in the country.
The warning, according to Defence Headquarters, came on the heels of recent insinuations online that some military officials have been aiding and abating herdsmen engaging in gruesome killings across the country.
This was made known in Abuja during the relaunch of the Forum of Spokespersons of Security and Response Agencies (FOSSRA).
Director of Defence Intelligence, Brigadier General Rabe Abubakar, therefore called on media organisations to partner security agencies for a better-informed society.
Abubakar, who also doubled as FOSSRA chairman, warned that “as citizens, we have no other country to go to other than Nigeria, so we have to stop politicising security matters.
“We would like to also request that in times like this, media reports of security matters should foster national security, harmonious coexistence and should be in the interest of national unity.”
He argued that the existing gap among security agencies in information management and attempts by some persons to politicise security issues have prompted “the need for harmonisation and effective dissemination of defence and security information to the public.”
The Director of Information further explained that recent trends on social media and online platforms where rumours are bandied around have the potential of threatening the nation’s nation security.
Abubakar urged the mainstream media to desist from relying on social media for news reports on security matters, considering such platforms as misleading and unreliable.
On the need to resuscitate FOSSRA, Abubakar stated that “there was weak coordination and non-existent harmonisation of information released to media by the agencies.
“It was more like unhealthy competition and bitter rivalry as agencies that are working ought to be working towards our national security goals, instead, they were striving to outwit one another in disseminating information.
“This paradigm shift is very important now more than ever before. We want to once again seek your hands of fellowship and to bridge the communication gap between the security agencies and the media which hitherto may not have been very smooth.”
He urged further that the “media should help educate the citizenry against hate and divisive messages and comments that are prevalent especially in the social media domain.
“There is nothing much we in the defence and security sector can achieve without your valued cooperation. That is why we carry you along in all we do. Today marks the beginning of a transparent and mutual partnership that would propel our national aspiration as a united country.”
On the status of the forum, Abubakar added that “FOSSRA is the only recognised body of spokespersons of security and response agencies in Nigeria. No other such platform is allowed to operate anywhere in the country. This is duly communicated to and approved by the National Security Adviser and the Chief of Defence Staff.
“FOSSRA has the capacity to serve both strategic and operational purposes considering the critical role of information management in the success or otherwise of any security or intelligence operations.”
Speaking also at the occasion, the Executive Secretary Centre for Crisis Communication (CCC), Air Commodore Yusuf Anas (rtd), assured the forum of the need to reach out security issues not living up expectation in the area of public information management.
Responding to several complaints regarding the decision of the Department of State Service (DSS) to shut down its media and information unit, Anas pledged that there was an urgent need by FOSSRA to reach out to the agency for possible redress.
The DSS, since the inception of the new leadership led by Lawal Daura, has systemically avoided the press, including crippling the once robust media and information unit in agency.
Anas said: “The Centre for Crisis Communication is a brain-child of FOSSRA and the Secretariat of the forum with 17 agencies from military, security, intelligence and response agencies as members.”
Other participants at the event include Wilson Uwujaren of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC); Group Captain Ayodele Famuyiwa of Nigerian Air Force; Navy Captain Sulieman Dahun, Superintendent Kalu Chijoke of the Nigerian Police among others.
Agencies that participated are National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), Independent Corrupt and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC), Nigerian Customs Service (NCS), Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS), Nigerian Prisons Service and others.