By Gerald Adewole
A one day training programme on professional reportage of rape has been held for Nigerian Journalists on the crime desk.
The training program which was held by the National Council for Arts and Culture (NCAC) in collaboration with Nigerian Television Authority and Omnimedia Nigeria Limited was aimed at exposing the Journalists on nature of rape, how to assist potential victims of rape avoid rape circumstances, and to seek redress as victims of rape.
The programme which is part of the efforts of the NCAC to stem the rising tide of rape in Nigeria is also aimed at educating the journalists on how to professionally inform those in-charge of the rehabilitation of rape victims about procedures to empathize with victims of rape and restore them to their normal life.
Declaring the workshop open, the Director-General of the National Council for Arts and Culture, Otunba Olusegun Runsewe said that the Council under his leadership is in a crusade to reshape Nigeria and bring the nation back on the path of cherished traditional values. He pointed out that vices like rape, drug abuse, transgenderism, homosexualism are not part of Nigerian culture and therefore Nigerians must speak out and resist them.
He stated that the capacity building for journalists had become necessary because of the role they have to play in exposing rapists and helping the victims of rape to get justice.
The Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina who was one of the Special Guests at the occasion commended Otunba Runsewe for organizing the training programme.
He said that as a journalist himself, he knows that the war against rape and rapists cannot be won without the involvement of journalists.
Adesina advised the trainees to step up their investigative reportage of report and follow cases of rape to logical conclusion in order to shame the rapists and ensure justice for victims of rape.
“Rape has emotive, legal and social dimensions and journalists need training such as this to ethically and professionally report rape cases with efficiency and human face” Femi Adesina said.
Also speaking at the occasion, Mrs. Abikhe Dabiri-Erewa, the Executive Chairman of the Nigerian in Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM) said she was particularly happy about the anti-rape war of the National Council for Arts and Culture because she sponsored the Violence Against Persons’ Bill which is now an Act of the National Assembly, criminalizing rape.
She stated that as a Journalist and Law Maker, she had been severally involved in assisting rape victims in areas of redress and rehabilitation.
She urged the trainees to be courageous and professionally tactful in the reportage of rape as reporting rape is delicate and requires professional efficiency.
He cautioned the trainees to always apply wisdom, care and doggedness in the reportage of rape so as to ensure that offenders are brought to book.
Six resource persons presented very insightful papers at the occasion. Professor Abiodun Adeniyi who presented a paper on “Ethics, Responsibilities and Responsibilities in the coverage of Rape” said that the job of journalists in Godly and charged Nigerian journalists to be responsible and responsive in exposing rapists whom he described as perverts.
In his paper, “Rape Investigation and Reporting”, Dr. Theophilus Abbah, Head Daily Trust Foundation said that rape, like corruption must be resisted, adding that journalists must work with Civil Society Organizations to give victims of Rape confidence to speak out.
Mrs. Rabi Abdullah, Manager News and Current Affairs of the Nigerian Television Authority, took participants on a practical video documentary on rape she investigated and reported 2013 and stressed that as watch-dogs of the society, journalists must stand against Rape.
Musikilu Mojeed, the Editor-in-Chief of Premium times took the participants on the resources they must constantly rely on while reporting on rape. These, according to him, are websites of National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP), Federal Ministry of Women Affairs, Women At Risk International Foundation, Mirable Centre, WN Women, Global Champion on Global Equity, Nigerian Police Force, Wayback Machine, amongst others.
Dr. Kayode Ajulor who gave a Legal perspective on Rape stressed the difference between duty and honour in the reportage of Rape.
He said journalists reporting rape must be careful in their use of words as a single word is capable of making them liable to libel. Citing sections of the 1999 constitution, he enlightened the participants on what constitutes libel in law.
Pastor Idowu Bakare noted that Journalists are the conscience of the society that must follow through investigations on rape so as to expose and shame rapists.
A total of 59 Journalists attended the intensive training programme organized for a cross-section of Nigerian Journalists.
At the end of the programme, participants were given certificates and souvenirs.