From Molly Kilete and Fred Itua, Abuja
Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Faruk Yahaya, has lauded the contribution of the media, especially The Sun, to the fight against terrorism and other sundry security challenges in the country.
Yahaya said The Sun, as one of the biggest media companies in the country, with one of the widest circulation strengths, has contributed in no small measure in promoting activities of the armed forces, especially the army.
The army chief, who called for more collaboration with The Sun, said with media support, about 50 percent of the insurgency war would be won.
The COAS made the appeal when he received the Managing Director and Editor-in-Chief of The Sun Publishing Limited, Onuoha Ukeh, and the newspaper’s management team in his office at the Army Headquarters in Abuja.
Yahaya, while acknowledging major successes so far recorded by the army, appealed to the media to stop giving publicity to the evil activities of terrorists, bandits, kidnappers and other criminal groups upsetting the peace of the country.
He further called on Nigerians to join hands in the fight against insurgency, saying the war can only be won when all hands are on deck.
He said terrorists and other criminal groups continue to thrive because of the publicity they get from the media.
“The media should stop publicising their atrocities and they would no longer be relevant,” he said.
Yahaya, who said the Nigerian Army and other security agencies have made tremendous successes in its counterterrorism, anti-banditry and other internal security operations across the country, lamented that such operations were not given the needed publicity they should get.
As a result, he said oftentimes, the publicity given to terrorists’ activities dampen the morale of troops.
“We appreciate The Sun Publishing Company for all the effort to publicise our activities. Media is key in all our activities, particularly now in this era of information communication technology. They are key partners, particularly in their non-kinetic lines of operations.
“They are the ones that reach out to others. Particularly in counter-insurgency operations, the insurgents thrive on publicity they gain from the media. They get their strength from the media. If for example, there is a blackout on what they do and nobody hears about their activities, 50 percent of the job is done.
“But when their activities are published, over and again, they thrive from there. Sometimes this impacts negatively on the security forces and others, and sometimes seemingly giving them the notion that maybe they are weak or they are succeeding or they are so important criminals.
“The army and the armed forces and other security agencies are productive in their operations and activities. It is in that light that we request the media to also, as part of their professional mandate, make deliberate efforts to join us in the fight against criminals and criminalities.
“We are not saying they should not report, but they should make deliberate efforts to support the activities, the achievements of the army, the Armed Forces and ensure they are published. They would serve as encouragement to the troops. If the terrorists’ activities are not reported in the media, 50 percent of the job is done.”
Earlier in his remarks, Managing Director and Editor-in-Chief of The Sun Publishing Limited, Mr. Ukeh, commended officers and soldiers of the army for their commitment, dedication and sacrifices to ensure the unity and stability of the nation.
He said The Sun team’s visit to the COAS was coming at an auspicious time when the nation was remembering the sacrifices of fallen heros.
“We are happy to be here at a time of the Armed Forces Remembrance Day. We recognise the sacrifices of the army and the military in general. The army and military have done much for this nation. We appreciate this sacrifices and the effort to keep Nigeria safe,” he said.
Ukeh also pledged the support of The Sun, in partnership with the Nigerian Army, in the fight against insurgency, banditry, kidnapping and other violent crimes ravaging the country.
He commended the COAS for making the welfare of personnel, especially those at the frontline, his top priority, as allowances are now being paid promptly, thereby boosting the morale of troops to give the terrorists the battle of their lives.
Ukeh, who used the occasion of the visit to congratulate officers and soldiers of the Nigerian Army as they celebrate the 2022 Armed Forces Remembrance Day, also commiserated with them over their deceased colleagues, who paid the supreme price for protecting the country and prayed God to grant their souls eternal rest.
He said: “It is indeed a critical time for our nation where we are battling with insurgency, banditry, kidnapping and other sundry insecurity. The army has tried its best to keep Nigeria safe. We understand the challenges and sacrifices made by the army and the officers who are in the trenches, in the bush, facing the criminals so that we would be safe.
“We thank you for these sacrifices and efforts you have made to save us. We are very happy with the COAS that since he assumed office the face of the war against insurgency and other sundry crime has changed because he has re-strategise and device means to effectively engage the terrorists and bandits it its operations.
“Particularly, we note the efforts you make to get some of the insurgents to repent and surrender. This strategy will shorten the war that we are waging. We commend you for that.
“We are also happy with the synergy we are seeing among the Army, Navy, Air Force and other security agencies. We particularly take note of the way the army works with the Air Force in combating the insurgents and bandits.”
Ukeh, while commending the COAS for his cordial relationship with the media, said: “It is what really prompted our visit today for us to strengthen relationships because the media can play a vital role even in the fight against terrorism, insurgency or kidnapping.”
The managing director was accompanied on the visit by Daily Sun Editor, Ihenacho Nwosu; Editor, Saturday Sun, Tope Adeboboye and Editor, Nation’s Capital and North, Folasade Adetutu-Koyi.