Reframing Nigeria’s Terror Narrative

17 Jul

By Nwachukwu Egbunike

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Boko Haram (BH) recently claimed responsibility for another terrorist violation of the Nigerian people. However, this time around, BH’s leader, Abubakar Shekau was incensed that they were not given due credit for the explosions in Lagos: “A bomb went off in Lagos. I ordered the bomber who went and detonated it, you said it was a fire incident, well if you hide it from people you can’t hide it from Allah.”

With such a display of insensitive arrogance, do we need any more proof that BH loves being in the media spotlight? The fact that the Lagos explosions were either hidden from public gaze or were better managed in the media, hit a raw nerve in Shekau’s media thirsty ego. Unlike the Niger Delta MEND which had an “apparently” efficient media presence via their constant media alerts of impeding bombings via emails, BH seems to feast on indirect publicity. There lies the irony, that Nigerian citizens, victims of BH’s attack, are the mouthpiece of the terrorists. Clearly, BH’s “haram” does not extend to publicity. On the contrary their tech-savvy uploading of YouTube videos and their dispersion through a certain foreign channel suggests a clear western media “halal” and indeed, a growing obsession with such publicity.

Soon after Shekau’s admittance of being behind the Abuja and Lagos bomb projectiles, I had an interesting conversation on Twitter. It started with this tweet:

I advocated a media blackout on BH terror and this naturally ignited a heated tweet-convo:

 

Obviously, the thrust of my suggestions of snuffing off BH’s relishing of deaths from the news was not generally accepted. It had generated similar sentiments some years earlier in a public relations seminar. We[1] had advocated, among others, the following:

100% Media blackout on all Boko Haram activities

As it stands, Boko Haram has won the psychological warfare by instilling fear amongst Nigerians. Boko Haram has used the media to issue threats, spread the details of their successful activities and promise more attacks. We therefore suggest a radical change in this information war: a total media blackout.  

Centralized Media Mouthpiece

We propose an integrated and synchronized communication strategy for BH. As such, all media briefings, press conferences, interviews, press releases, reactions, etc and on whatever platform MUST receive the implicit endorsement of the Head of Media Team on Boko Haram. The head of this team will also be the exclusive spokesman on Boko Haram issue in Nigeria. However, there will be an alternate head – who he can delegate this duty to – only when the head is not available or indisposed. (Nwogwugwu, Egbunike, Ajayi, Lawal, Salako and Olanipekun, 2013)

Many disagreed with this approach and I must admit that those who opposed the blanket media silence had strong points. Their fear, which was quite reasonable, was that the government would definitely go to sleep. These were not unfounded considering the apparent institutional decay and the cynicism with government’s ‘truths’. Also it was argued that it would be a grave injustice to the victims and their families if their plight were to go unnoticed. This additional wound of lack of public empathy would be too much for people already devastated, the argument continued. Faced with such valid objections, I had to change my original propositions to:

I do not claim to have all the answers. Besides I am not deluded to think that Nigeria’s war on terror will be won via media strategies alone. Nonetheless, literature on media and social movements has confirmed the importance of news framing. Frank Luntz’s[2] apt statement which captures the essence of framing: It’s not what you say; it’s how you say it (as cited in Scheufele and Tewksbury, 2007:7). It is significant to dwell on news framing because audiences depend on media not only for information but also to make decisions. As such the media – old and new – provide ‘windows’ for audiences to ‘understand’ an issue.

How then do we reframe the terror single story without falling into the trap of propaganda or gagging the victims of BH’s terror? Do we have the courage to side step our entrenched political convictions to face the common enemy, BH? Or is this an impossible task, laced with the inherent danger of gagging free speech? I admit that a total blackout is untenable based on the prevailing circumstances. However, a reframing of the narration on terror is long overdue.

 

 

[1] Nwogwugwu, D.; Egbunike, N. A.;Ajayi, T;Lawal, A; Salako, Y. and Olanipekun, T. (2013) Rebranding Nigeria, an MA PR Group Presentation, Department of Communication and Language Arts, University of Ibadan, unpublished

[2]  Scheufele, D. A and Tewksbury, D (2007) “Framing, Agenda Setting and Priming: The Evolution of Three Media Effects Models” Journal of Communication 57 (2007) 9-20

 

Ethics of Justice, the Responsibility of the Fresh Executives of the Nigerian Bar

16 Jul

By Ikechukwu Onuoma and Joshua Nwachukwu

“The price of greatness is responsibility.” – Winston Churchill

Mazi Afam Osigwe (Secretary General of the NBA)

Mazi Afam Osigwe (Secretary General of the NBA)

The Nigerian Bar Association has elected a new executive to pilot its affair. The fresh mint chariot riders of the Nigerian Bar have our warmest felicitations, especially Mazi Afam Osigwe (the recently elected Secretary General of the NBA). However, a call to service in any association necessarily entails grave responsibilities. Nonetheless, without an ethical compass, it can be rather difficult to navigate the complexities that necessarily come with leadership. This is the price of greatness that currently faces the new executive members of the NBA.

In every democratic system – of which Nigeria claims to be one – a vital aspect of its governmental system is doctrine of the rule of law. With this doctrine comes the independence and impartiality of the judiciary, through which the rule of law is upheld and sustained. These two principles are not only intrinsically united but their union can be referred to as a Catholic marriage, which is they cannot be divorced.

In this process of dispensing justice, there is an indispensable role, which is left to the lawyer, who acts as a representative or advocate for clients. Going down the lane of history, it would be discovered that the lawyers in England acted as intermediaries between the adverse parties and the royal family, which formed members of the judiciary, and their services were rendered pro bono. In Nigeria, the constitution by virtue of S.6 (6), has opened its doors wide for the disputants to bring their case rather than result to self-help, and this has to be done either by the aggrieved party or with the assistance of a legal practitioner, which is a fundamental human right provided for in S. 36(6)(c) of the 1999 constitution as amended.

The legal profession just like every other profession has its code of conduct, which regulates and controls the affairs of its members. These codes express, in the broadest of terms, the standards of professional conduct expected of lawyers in their relationship with the public, the legal system, and the legal profession. In Nigeria, the particular legislation in question is the “Rules of Professional Conduct in the Legal Profession”.

In the wave of corruption and financial difficulty, there has been an upsurge of degradation of work values and ethics by lawyers: vigorous advertising. Some have done this through the print and visual media; online advertising, while others send letters to organisations and clients, offering their services. Most of these acts are not in keeping with the rules of professional conduct.

Against the backdrop of the global financial crisis, there is an apparent reason to seemingly overlook the real reason for our trade. The real question that begs an answer is; what is the reason for this condescending act? Would it be wrong to infer and conclude that the legal profession is not only losing its ethics and values but also needs to double its effort in affording legal practitioners with the adequate preparation and continuous legal education.

In relation to the legal profession, legal ethics is defined as “the minimum standards of appropriate conduct within the legal profession, involving the duties that its members owe one another, their clients and the courts[1]”. Values on the other hand refers to moral principles, standards, ethics, ideals, traditions, code of conduct, norms, etiquette etc. that need be observed. In a sense, ethics and values may be used interchangeably.

It is our humble but firm view that, the drafters limited the advertisement as provided in S.34, for some specific reasons. One of such reasons is to instill and imprint on the mind of legal practitioners that the profession is essentially a call to duty and service. Though concerning the need for financial remuneration, our duty to do justice, amid balancing the duty they owe to the court, to the client, and to the public cannot be underestimated. By limiting this act of advertising, the drafters in their natural wisdom did not want the legal profession to condescend to a modernized or ‘learned’ market where counsels fight and struggle for clients. Legal practitioners earn their clients based on how they had exercised their legal skills in previous cases. This new trend leads legal practitioners to be obsessed about winning cases at all cost, with dire consequences to the bar and the bench. With this, not only will the sanctity of the legal profession be defiled, but also the average Nigerian citizen, who looks up to legal practitioners with the potentials to repositioning , the justice system will be disappointed.

Some lawyers may try to legalize this illegality by attributing this frenzy to the need to satiate their financial obligations, and as such have to reach out to clients as their counterparts do in other jurisdictions such as United States of America. A comparative analysis of different legal jurisprudence show how this ethical decline, even in these jurisdictions has affected their laws. Lawyers should lay more emphasis on working hard, if this condition is met, then naturally other things like prestige and money will follow, in fact, a good lawyer would be overburdened with cases.

It goes without saying that the corruption of the best is the worst. Over the years in choosing leaders who will be custodians of the Bar (Nigerian Bar Association) we have always conducted the elections with some degree of decorum worthy of emulation by other professional bodies. In recent times any delegate can agree that, this hallowed system is gradually condescending to a war, not of superior reasoning but bello ad hominem-war against persons. This to our mind shows the degradation of ethical values.

Unfortunately this mentality of making money is gradually creeping into the thoughts of law students in the university, who do not see the act of advocacy as participating in the temple of justice in order to see that justice and equity are enshrined deeply in the territorial entity of Nigeria, but see this profession as an avenue of enrichment only. This line of thought will occasion more violations of professional ethics in future.

We assert that the enforcement of this act should be taken with a renewed energy and avenues where educating lawyers and aspiring lawyers on this ethics should be utilized. As the scope, of legal practice changes and as new situations create new ethical challenges, both the senior members of the  bar and bench ought to be proactive in giving guidance to practitioners and offer a high profile example of the optimal standard.

Finally though acquisition of values pertains in a very high degree to several extrinsic factors rooted in nurture and nature, very senior lawyers may have to double their effort in training lawyers attached to their law firm as these qualities apply both to office practice and to litigation. A lawyer should be mindful of the need to protect the judicial system and the legal profession. This is fundamentally so when we keep in mind that our profession is one of the few practiced in public glare. Again, members of the disciplinary committee have a duty to show good example and bring these principles to the attention of other lawyers when appropriate.

Ikechukwu Onuoma Esq., is a legal practitioner in A. J. Offiah & Co Enugu while Joshua Nwachukwu is a law student in the University of Nigeria Enugu Campus.

Parts of this post was originally published here

[1] See Black’s Law Dictionary, 8th ed., p.913

 

AND SOME CAME HOME, BUT……….

7 Jul

feathersproject:

Arome, these are exactly my thoughts… but alas to ask questions is to become a villain! Chai, this Chibok abduction is turning into high drama!

Originally posted on WELCOME TO IN AMEHS WORDS:

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There are questions, oh yes, there are questions that must be asked, and yes I speak for myself, and that is why I write by myself, but I want you to read, and maybe, just maybe you might have the same questions going through your mind.

The nobility, not mobility oh, sorry Mr. mobility I had to clarify that, now where was I, oh yes, the nobility of the cause to bring back the kidnapped Chibok Girls is quite laudable, and admirable, and oh well you get the point, and while there have been demands and cries and appeals and so on, the fact still remains that the girls have not been brought back, and more have been taken, although we have been made to believe, or rather an attempt to convince everyone that no recent kidnaps have been carried out, we know better don’t we?

Anyway, back to the…

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Dora Akunyili – Ijele Nwanyi!

7 Jun

A Dirge by Nwachukwu Egbunike

Late Professor Dora Akunyili

Late Professor Dora Akunyili

 

THE SULTAN, NIGERIAN MUSLIMS AND BOKO HARAM Letter 4 from Rome: 27 May 2014

4 Jun

Originally posted on visionvoiceandviews:

THE SULTAN, NIGERIAN MUSLIMS AND BOKO HARAM

Letter 4 from Rome: 27 May 2014

By +John Cardinal Onaiyekan, Archbishop of Abuja.

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“Terrorism has no place in Islam….We must rise up as always, with one voice to condemn all acts of terrorism, condemn those terrorists wherever they are and try our best as Muslims to ensure peace reigns in our community”.

 

This is the core of the message of the Sultan of Sokoto, Muhammad Sa’adAbubakar III, and President of Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA) during a special prayer session last weekend organised by the same NSCIA at the Abuja National Mosque, an event that was widely covered by the Nigerian media. It was also given very wide and positive media coverage here in Rome, starting from the Vatican Radio. I congratulate the Sultan for his bold statement. This has given me the courage to voice out, with…

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Boko Haram, A true story, from one in the field

3 Jun

Originally posted on visionvoiceandviews:

 I am sharing this from one of my younger ones who is a Reverend Father!

The Horror of BH! The Hollowness of these empty wretches who know of nothing else but how to kill, the sheer savagery of these brutes and the callousness of these blood thirsty hordes.
Pray for them and pray for the safety of people like Father Law who place themselves in harm’s way every day to preach the message of God, which is peace, love and justice!
Noel 

=========================================================================================================

Nna anyi ukwu,
Nice reading your articles and comments on the Boko Haram saga. They make very beautiful reading especially when one considers that you people are writing from your comfort zones and relying more on what is being said or written about the insurgency.
I stay in Maiduguri diocese since last year and am writing from there now. The real stories of the menace are hardly…

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Ethiopia became 6th from the top 10 countries imprisoning journalists.

16 May Featured Image -- 2534

feathersproject:

#FreeZone9Bloggers #Ethiopia is World #6 in jailing Journalists!

Originally posted on AFRO ADDIS:

Journalists in prison reach record high cpj blackTurkey, Iran and China among leading jailers

New York, December 11, 2012—The number of journalists imprisoned worldwide reached a record high this year, a trend driven primarily by terrorism and other anti-state charges levied against critical reporters and editors, according to a new report by the Committee to Protect Journalists. 

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