Safety and security of Nigerian journalists were again brought to the fore at the security training conducted by the Premium Times Centre for Investigative Journalism, PTCIJ, recently in Lagos.
The three-day training, themed “Holistic Security Training: Digital Physical and Psychososcial Safety for Journalists”, was organised to build capacity and raise awareness about safety of journalists working under different security conditions across the country, as well as around the world.
The participants, selected from the various geo-political zones of the country, were shortlisted from different media platforms including radio, television, newspaper and online.
The training also saw participants and other facilitators deliberate on press freedom and the need to push the conversation forward, towards creating a more enabling environment for journalists to operate.
Dapo Olorunyomi, publisher of PREMIUM TIMES, in his opening address, noted that press freedom must remain alive.
“It’s a conversation in progress and the press must endeavour to continue to hold institutions and people accountable because there is a legal basis to that,” Mr. Olorunyomi said.
Citing statutes, case laws, and the Nigerian constitution, Mr. Olorunyomi charged journalists to discharge their duties with accuracy, loyalty to their audience, and verifiable facts.
The programme manager of PTCIJ, Joshua Olufemi, said the condition under which journalists operate should be made to improve as the society evolves.
On the first day, Tuesdsay, participants were exposed to different means of building resilience in cases of arrest, illness, accident, attacks, kidnap, confiscation of property and loss of data, among other physical security concerns.
Azeeenarh Mohammed and Peter Nkanga, who served as instructors at the training, explained why it is important for journalists to build resilience.
Wednesday, the second day of the training, was dedicated to sessions on management of psychosocial safety and security concerns. There were modules and shared conversations on how to get out of stress, managing emotional challenges, relationship with vulnerable sources, financial concerns among others.
On the final day, Thursday, participants were taken through different digital and online sessions where they were exposed to the basics of digital security threats and how to forestall such attacks and threats.
Numerous applications and digital materials were put to use during the sessions and participants were guided on how to operate in a safer and more secure way on the cyberspace.
Expectedly, the issue of poor condition of service in media houses came up during the sessions and journalists, especially those on the management cadre, were implored to help push the conversations at their various organisations.
At the end of the training, Mr. Olorunyomi also urged journalists to continue the conversations at their various work places and ensure that the campaign does not end at the training.
This, he said, would ensure that the issues remain on the radar and organisations took them seriously.
At the end of the programme on Thursday, the participants said the training afforded them an opportunity to learn new skills in investigative reporting, as well as in ways to manage their safety and security concerns – physical, psychosocial and digital.
“It is just purely amazing,” said a participant, Ekedebe Amazing, a radio presenter. “The sessions were enlightening and proactively equipping,” she added.
The head of investigations at Abuja-based Daily Trust newspaper, Nurudeen Abdullah, said the modules were interesting and beneficial.
“The training is expedient due to threats faced by journalists in the discharge of their duties,” Mr. Abdullah added.
Dan Ikpoyi, a journalist with Lagos-based Television Continental, TVC, said, “For me this training is an eye-opener. I’ve been an investigative journalist for years and one thing I have been bothered about is protecting my source.
“Sources are often worried about their safety and the training has really taught me how to protect my source, and even how to protect myself,” he said.
For Grace Enang, the Niger Delta bureau head of Channels Television, the training was enlightening.
A journalist with PREMIUM TIMES newspapers, Evelyn Okakwu, also expressed delight about skills gathered at the training.
In her closing remarks, Aisha Hashim, a facilitator and project management team member at PTCIJ, disclosed that a similar programme is being put together by the Centre and journalists, particularly young ones who have not benefited from such trainings in the past, should be on the lookout.
The PTCIJ is the non-governmental organisation arm of PREMIUM TIMES, founded in 2011, that aims to provide qualitative capacity building for media practitioners, especially in investigative reporting.
More than twenty journalists participated in the training.
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