By Bukola Olasanmi
A group, the Concerned Professionals’ Congress, CPC, has endorsed a passionate appeal by the Chief of Defence Staff, CDS, General Abayomi Gabriel Olonisakin to the media to exercise restraint in their reportage of ongoing operations by the Armed Forces of Nigeria to rescue the 110 abducted Dapchi school girls.
The CDS, in company of the three service chiefs of Army, Navy and Air Force as well as the Director-General of the Department of State Security Services, Lawan Daura, made the plea shortly after a top security meeting on Thursday at the Military and Command Control Center, Maimalari Cantonment in Maiduguri where they reviewed the counter-insurgency operations including the search for the Dapchi school girls.
He said the appeal to the media to exercise caution and restraint in their reports of ongoing military search and rescue efforts became necessary to prevent operational sabotage and collateral damage to the safety of the lives of the girls.
The Acting Director of Defence Information, Brig. Gen John Agim, quoting the CDS while briefing reporters in Maiduguri shortly after the meeting said that the security chiefs resolved not to discuss their operational strategy in the public except communicating only the successes recorded.
Reacting yesterday in Abuja, the group’s Chief Media Strategist, Mr. Emeka Nwanpa and the Northern Rapporteur, Mallam Baba Al-Kasim in a press release maintained that the abduction of the 110 girls in one fell swoop was to test the will, capacity and resilience of the Nigerian military, saying that insensitive media reports on the rescue efforts could boost pro-enemy narrative thereby further endangering the safety of the abducted girls.
The group urged Nigerians from all walks of life irrespective of race, region, religion or political leaning to close ranks and fully support the military and other security forces to confront Boko Haram in the interest of the peace, unity, stability, health and sovereignty of the nation.
Calling on media practitioners to guide against jeopardising the search and rescue operations with insensitive and careless reports that expose the operations and the girls to excessive risk, the group’s spokesman cautioned the media against being used willy-nilly against national security, stability, peace and unity.
Nwanpa emphasized that the real challenge before well-meaning Nigerians is to stand and be counted in the current national quest for lasting answers to some of the nation’s endemic problems especially insecurity, terrorism and violent extremism.
“The Dapchi episode may have dampened the morale of many people, it is however not enough to erode our confidence in our Armed Forces to turn the tide against the criminal abductors who went after our girls as bargaining chip. We need the media to galvanise the entire nation against the perpetrators of this heinous act.
Our faith in the unity, peace and stability of this country is unshaken. Rather than resort to blame game, we should mobilize against the common enemy’’, Nwanpa said.
‘’We commend the federal government for the ongoing efforts to change the narrative. We also urge fellow Nigerians to interrogate and introspect. Why are these issues becoming dominant now that we had started seeing the back of Boko Haram, courtesy of our gallant and courageous military?’’, he asked.
On the killer herdsmen challenge, the group expressed hope that President Muhammadu Buhari’s directives to the Armed Forces and other security agencies to deal with the menace will bring lasting solution to the security problem but it cautioned Nigerians against unduly politicising it.
The group particularly noted that the Nigerian Armed Forces is globally reputed for gallantry, commending the great efforts of the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), General Abayomi Gabriel Olonisakin and his team towards ending terror in the North-east.
It said that while the degraded and fleeing Boko Haram remnants now lack the capacity to hold territories due to the superior ground and aerial fire power of the Nigerian troops, they are on the prowl attacking soft targets such as markets, mosques, girls’ schools, etc seeking cheap publicity.