A Non-Governmental Organization, ‘Search for Common Ground'(SFCG) recently rounded up a three day training workshop for Journalists in Benue State, where about 30 Journalists were trained on reporting conflicts sensitive situations.
In a Communique issued at the end of the training in Makurdi, and signed by Senior Programs Manager and Head of Office, Search for Common Ground in the Middle Belt, Olutoyin Falade, the workshop challenged journalists to strive to giving fair hearing to all parties involved in farmer-herder conflicts in the state so that none will feel under reported, as well as instill balance and objectivity.
The participants also called for the creation of a North Central Development Commission (NCDC) to address issues of farmer/herder conflicts with a view to rehabilitating and reconstructing ravaged communities, infrastructures and other destructions caused by the crisis.
They employed government at all levels to develop a comprehensive policy frame work and legislation for peace building and post-conflict reconstruction.
The workshop which challenged journalists in Benue to shun personal biases, requested the Nigeria Union of Journalists, NUJ to push for comprehensive legislation on press freedom which include security of journalists and their welfare to encourage their performance.
It stressed however that, Journalists should be sensitive enough to step down some news contents capable of fueling crisis between both parties in conflict situations.
“It is obvious that most of the journalists as victims of conflict directly or indirectly are traumatized and there is need for societal psychological training to help foster forgiveness that builds bridges for common grounds.”
The participants called on government of Benue State to establish pilot ranches that would be hired by herders, even as they urged government to encourage investors to develop ranches in the State for use by herders.
While acknowledging that security agencies have been overstretched in the course of the crisis, the participants called on the federal government to adequately equip security agents as well as take care of their welfare for optimal performance.
DAILY ASSET reports that the objective of the three days training was to ensure that journalists through their media reports, enhance public understanding of farmer-herder conflicts, promoting conflict sensitive content and countering hate-speech, stereotypes, biases and negative narratives that fuel violence.