By Francis Ekpone, O’star Eze, Gabriel Alonta
The Association of Digital Media Core Advocates (ADMCA) has called on the government at all levels as well as the security agencies to explore the use of social media in crime fighting while advocating for the establishment of an online neighbourhood watch so as to engage the citizenry for the same purpose.
The national president of the group, Ogbuefi Harris Chuma said this during an interactive session with stakeholders in the media, social media and security in Awka, Anambra State themed, “A media colloquy on neighbourhood safety”. He noted that the security challenges plaguing the country in recent times would be better tackled if the citizens learn how to use the social media in monitoring their neighbourhood and reporting suspicious activities promptly to law enforcement agencies.
In his words, “Let us set up a neighbourhood watch online or a community patrol online, working with law enforcement agents to ensure security of lives and properties. Let us make sure we deploy our online huge presence to monitoring our streets and homes and report any crime or suspicious activity immediately to the law enforcement agencies using designated websites, the police social media handles, and telephone numbers.”
He therefore enjoined the government to develop the citizens centre for social media which would serve as a platform for developing policies and procedures that would regulate the use of social media in crime fighting.
On his part, the Anambra State council chairman of the Nigeria Union of Journalists, NUJ, Sir Emma Ifesinachi, while appreciating the timeliness of the discourse, harped on the need for self-censorship by social media practitioners in their bid to report happenings around their neighbourhood.
He noted with dismay the destructive effect of the social media due to the flagrant dissemination of disinformation and misinformation and hate speeches while calling on all who engage in citizen journalism to only pass information that would make the society better.
“The social media has assumed a destructive stature in recent times which is rapidly consuming the humanity it came to advance.
“Politics is becoming brutal, nasty and cruel, and communities are being torn apart as a result of unregulated use of the social media in dissemination of information.
“Nigeria should develop a wholistic approach in the tackling of social media abuse. We need to conduct massive enlightenment of the citizenry on the negative consequences of social media abuses. Special laws should be enacted and effectively enforced for this same purpose,” he said.
Speaking also, the keynote speaker, Mr. Madu Chikwendu, who talked on ‘Social media, citizen journalism and neighbourhood safety in automation age’, said with digitisation, anyone can be a journalist, while noting that it is everyone’s job to protect lives.
Madu, however regretted that social media “lacks censorship, is unregulated, too subjective, unprofessional and has, most of the time, poor quality of content.”
He encouraged the citizens to be more conscious of their neighbours and use their social media gadgets constructively in keeping their neighbourhood safe.
Reacting to the programme later with the press, the MD/CEO of ABS Radio/TV, Chief Uche Nwora lauded the exercise saying that the insights shared on how citizens can play a role in attending to the security challenges of the country.
The MD/CEO of Anambra Newspaper and Printing Corporation stressed the need for objectivity in carrying out citizen journalist by being fair to every angle of every story.
“The security advocated for today is a security that starts from the conduct of the media practitioner in how he packages and disseminates information,” he said.