By Amos Aar
A NON-GOVERNMENTAL organization, Mercy Corps Nigeria, has set up Benue Media Peace Network aimed at brokering peace among communities through the media.
The network was formed on Tuesday at the end of a 2-day capacity building training on Conflict Sensitive Reporting for Media Practitioners from Benue, Plateau and Kaduna States, organized by Mercy Corps in collaboration with Interfaith Mediation Centre (IMC)
through Community Initiative to Promote Peace (CIPP) project, sponsored by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).The training was to equip media practitioners with the required knowledge to report conflicts without inciting more violence.
The Benue Peace Media Network has Hembadoon Orsar, Benue State Correspondent of Leadership Newspaper, as Coordinator, Brenda Agba of The Voice Newspaper, Secretary, Denen Achusah of ThisWeek Newspaper as Assistant Secretary, Naomi Okoh, Treasurer and Sam Gafa of Radio Benue Makurdi as Public Relations Officer and they emerged through an election by the participants.
Their mandate is to coordinate the activities of the network to ensure that peace is achieved in communities through the media.
The training was a continuation of the exercise conducted in 2020 by Academic Research and Development Association (ARDA), a Mercy Corps partner in the CIPP project with implementation in six states (Benue, Plateau, Kogi, Katsina, Kano, Kaduna) across North Central and North West Nigeria.
The programme featured presentations by Mr Samson Auta, CIPP Programme Facilitator and Coordinator, Community Peace Action Network Interfaith Mediation Centre, Kaduna, and Mr Godwin Okoko, another Facilitator of the CIPP Programme on Community Accountability and Reporting Mechanism (CARM), Do-No-Harm Context Analysis and Gender Sensitive Reporting.
They cautioned against negative profiling of people and descriptive headlines.
In his contribution, Mr Kenneth Dakop, Team Lead, Strategic Communication, Plateau State Peace building Agency, acknowledged the media as a critical stakeholder in peace building and urged journalists to avoid biased reportage and find ways to reduce tension even with facts, when reporting conflicts. He urged journalists to build synergy with security agencies for their safety and for easy communication when crisis break out.
The Kaduna and plateau team narrated their experiences and made reviews of old stories that caused violence in the two states.
Highlight was the development of SMART Action Plan/Presentation by Participants as well as the presentation of Certificate of Participation to Participants.