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*The Nigerian media and ethical issues *

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William G. Mathor, a notable sociologist, once observed that the doctoring

of news by newsmen is repugnant .The current trend in the country is

similar to what obtained during the “Libertarian Age” where a public

officer hardly expects a fair deal from an opposition news organ.

Unfortunately, media organizations in the country have seemingly aligned

themselves along interest lines. A typical case is a recent news report by

one of the adjudged reputable media organizations in the country on the

Abia Governorship Election Petition.
Newsmen, though human beings, are strongly expected to separate themselves

from news reports. In the report entitled “ABIA Gov. election petition:

Court of Appeal judgment dims PDP's hope “, the author of the report

glaringly and convincingly demonstrated partiality. It is interesting when

newsmen demonstrate the ability to separate news from comments; get facts

of a story and present same with as much detachment as possible, especially

when handling a critical issue such as an election petition.

It is an incontrovertible fact in news reporting that the headline always

agree with the body of the story. But in this instance, the author just

took off and rambled through the story and finally landed in a destination

that has no link with the starting point.
The story borders on the recent  dismissal of two appeals  filed by the

Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Abia State against the governorship

candidate of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) in the April

general elections, Dr. Alex Otti, and his party by the Court of Appeal,

sitting in Owerri, Imo State.
It will be recalled that the appeals originated from a decision of the Abia

State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal, sitting in Umuahia, to take

all the preliminary objections, filed by the litigants, along with the

judgment of the substantive petition.
But dissatisfied with the tribunal's decision, the party headed for the

Court of Appeal, urging it to set aside the decision of the tribunal and

compel it to deliver ruling on the pending motions.

In one of the motions, PDP urged the tribunal to strike out Otti's petition

on the grounds that it was not duly signed and that the necessary fees were

not paid in compliance with the provisions of the Electoral Act 2010, as

The multi- million question is “does the dismissal of the appeals dim

Ikpeazu and PDP's hope in the tribunal as suggested by the author of the

A lawyer, Ugochukwu Amaraizu in his position maintained that the

development has no atom of effect on PDP's chances at the tribunal.

In his words:”Why did PDP and IKPEAZU go to the Appeal Court in the first

place? At what stage of the matter at the Tribunal did they go to Appeal?

“It will be recalled that the said appeals were filed when the Tribunal,

after hearing the Motions of all the parties including the Petitioners,

decided to suspend its Ruling till the conclusion of evidence. The Tribunal

immediately went into hearing by asking the Petitioners to open their case.

PDP and Ikpeazu quickly ran to Court of Appeal praying them to Order the

Tribunal to deliver Rulings on those Motions.
'Unfortunately, before the Appeal Court could deliver its judgment, even

Ikpeazu, PDP and INEC equally opened and concluded their case. At that

stage, the purpose of heading to the Appeal Court was defeated. PDP

actually wanted the Appeal Court to order the Tribunal to deliver and

thereafter know whether it has jurisdiction to proceed into hearing or not.

But the Tribunal already concluded hearing on the day the Court of Appeal

delivered its first judgment. The Appeal Court relied on paragraph 12(5) of

the 2nd Schedule to the Electoral Act to hold that the Tribunal was right

to suspend Ruling on those Motions till judgment.
“The judgment of the Appeal Court did not tamper with the Motions already

heard at the Tribunal. The Court of Appeal did not make any comment on the

propriety and/or otherwise of those Motions. It is the duty of the Tribunal

to deliver its Ruling on those Motions.
“If the Appeal Court in its judgment had said that the Motions filed by PDP

and Ikpeazu challenging the jurisdiction of the Tribunal were not in order,

that is where it would have affected the hope of PDP. And the Court of

Appeal could not have done that because those Motions were not before them.

They were heard at the Tribunal.
“Appeal Court judgment has nothing to do with the Motions and the judgment

of the Tribunal. It is after the Tribunal delivers its Rulings and/or

judgment that any of the aggrieved parties may run back to the same Appeal

Court to test whatever will be the final decision of the Tribunal. PDP’S

hope is still tight. They have nothing to fear at all, “Amaraizu explained.

Balance in news reporting is as important as water is to man. But it was

obviously lacking in the report. There are always two sides to a coin, and

no oversight could have prompted the author not to capture PDP's side of

the story.
The newsman is expected to discharge high degree of honesty in his

presentation of news by according equal priority to a story dealing with

his favourite (if there should be any) and his presumed enemy so to speak.

On the other hand, news and propaganda are strange concepts. News is

sacrosanct because it deals with truth and nothing but the truth, but”

propaganda, according to Adams and Stratton” is the name given to any

organized attempt to influence your thinking or your actions “.

The essence of that publication is to manipulate and influence the thinking

of Abians, especially the gullible population, nothing more, and nothing

Abians are not new to the propaganda efforts of Otti his APGA co-travelers,

using some media hireling. It becomes worrisome when a reputable media

organization is dragged into this unholy arrangement.

The public repose a lot of confidence and trust in the press and this

should not be abused. Similarly, the media owe the public the duty to

educate them  and educate them properly; and not deceiving them, as the

bits of information people gather from the press make them aware of the

world around them and build their stock of incidental knowledge which

enhance their living.
For Otti and his co-travelers, no level of propaganda has won any war

anywhere in the world.
Ukegbu, a public affairs analyst, wrote from Umuahia, Abia State.

[email protected] ; [email protected] ;09052861355.

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