OPINION: Impact Of Social Media On Nigerian Journalism

Journalism is the activity or profession of writing for newspapers or magazines or of broadcasting news on radio or television while Social media refers to the means of interactions among people in which they create, share, exchange and comment on contents among themselves in virtual communities and networks.

The impact of social media in the communication system cannot be overemphasized as traditional media has undoubtedly taken an onward progressive turn in achieving its core assignments of educating, informing and entertaining its audience; the Nigerian populace.

The consistent and goal-driven use of social media has filled the interactive and investigative vacuum found in the traditional media in Nigeria and the entire world. Hitherto this new age of journalism, reporters were only able to practice the time-sensitive profession within a certain constrained environment which permitted the Nigerian journalist to find facts from physically available sources.

Today, the Nigerian journalist can boast of new skills in news gathering and better accuracy in reporting the opinion of the people. Platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and Google + have been used to monitor trends and gather intelligence in regards to the opinion of the masses.

Take for instance events which have garnered much attention as a result of activities on social media. Thousands of Nigerians joined Twitter during and after the subsidy protest (OccupyNigeria) of 2012,  the death of four UNIPORT students (ALUU4) caused a nationwide outcry against ‘jungle justice,’ the video of a policeman caught extorting a motorist went viral online and has now found its way into TV and radio.

These events were either instigated or projected online as a result of the use of social media platforms by those who witnessed and shared the details.

The ability of the social media to breed interactivity has caused the audience to exit its passive shell and enter into a new sphere of activity. This has helped in a number of other sectors in the economy; most especially politics and education. Worthy of note is the fact that social media has helped traditional media to gain its lost audience (youths).

With the rise in social media usage, Nigerian youths, who scarcely subscribed to the print media, have now cultivated a healthy habit of keeping abreast of events in the country.

Social media has impacted Nigerian journalism in the area of reporting as new features i-reports which allows individuals report events in real time in any case where an official correspondent is not on ground.

The integration of social media in news gathering and delivery has also enabled the Nigerian journalist to work in a capacity that totally erases the restrictions of distance. Today, interviews are conducted via email correspondence, Twitter conversations, Skype video chats etc.

Breaking News! This feature has been redefined since the advent of social media in Nigerian journalism. Journalists can now break news as they happen with supporting files such as pictures taken and posted alongside headlines.

Live broadcasts have been made possible online via web streaming. In most cases, the audience is able to participate and give feedback via the comments section which allows the reporter access to instant feedback.

The World Wide Web evolves daily; so does the social media. This means traditional media will yet experience even more changes and growth in times to come.

Written by Mayowa Ogundele, an online journalist with Channels Television, creative writer and aspiring broadcaster. Follow her via Twitter @Ohluwamayowa and Google+, Mayowa Ogundele.

Aluu Killing: Court Frees 7 Suspects

Seven out of the 18 persons arrested for the killing of the four University of Port Harcourt (UNIPORT) students in Omuokiri–Aluu community were on Thursday discharged by a Chief Magistrate court following the advice from the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP).

The Magistrate, Emmanuel Woke discharged the seven after he read the advice dated 25th January 2013 before the court.

He said that the seven persons were arrested and charged to court based on suspicion.

The advice also indicted one Hassan Welewa and 10 others for negligence in preventing the killings and active participation in the murder of Ugonna Obuzor, Toku Lloyd, Chiadika Biringa, and Tekenah Elkanah.

Channels Television correspondent, Grace Ekang, reports that the magistrate told the court that the 11 accused were to face other charges from the DPP.

13 persons including the 59-year-old traditional ruler of Aluu, Alhaji Hassan Welewa, were in October 2012 arraigned before the Port Harcourt Magistrate Court, over their alleged role in the killing of four students of the University of Port Harcourt, Rivers State.

Police arrest mastermind of UNIPORT killings

The Police in Rivers State said they have arrested the  mastermind and prime suspect of the ALUU murder, Coxson Lerebori Lucky, aka Bright.

Mr Lucky was declared wanted by the Nigerian Police on Monday for the brutal murder of  four students of the University of Port Harcourt – Ugonna Obuzor, 18, 200 Level Geology; Lloyd Toku, 19, 200 Level Civil Engineering; Tekena Elkanah, 20, a Diploma Technical student and Chiadika Biringa, 20, 200 Level Theatre Arts.

He allegedly raised the alarm which got the students killed.

21 people have so far been arrested and the IG of police has ordered an inquest into the alleged involvement of police men and have promised to bring to book any officer found involved in the killing.

Why police could not save the UNIPORT students – IGP

Police officers were chased away with stones by the mob that attacked and killed the four students of the University of Port Harcourt, in Aluu, Rivers state, the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Mohammed Abubakar has revealed.

The IGP in a statement issued on Monday in Abuja, explained that the chasing away of the police officers was why the police failed to save the four students who were gruesomely killed by the mob in Aluu.

The Police boss explained that his men were chased away with stones by the mob attacking the boys. He said when a reinforced team of policemen returned to the scene, the boys had been killed and burnt by the mob.

“On 5th October, 2012 at about 0700Hrs, based on a distress call that some armed robbers were arrested at Omukiri-Aluu area in Ikwerre LGA, a patrol team of four Policemen from Isiokpo Divisional Police Headquarters was dispatched to the area, a distance of about 10kms. The Police on getting to the scene met a mob attack on four victims who were supposedly the suspected armed robbers. Attempt made by the Police Patrol Team to take over the suspects were met with stiff opposition from the mob who chased the team with stones” the statement read.

“Consequently, the Patrol Team called for reinforcements, but unfortunately, upon the arrival of the reinforcements, the alleged armed robbery suspects have been stoned and burnt to death, while the mob immediately took to their heels.”

“The corpses were recovered by the Police who by then have been joined by members of the Joint Task Force (JTF)” the statement added.

The students killed were: Ugunna Obuzor- aged 18 Years; 200 Level Geology student; Lloyd Toku- aged 19 Years; 200 Level Civil Engineering student; Tekena Elkanah- aged 20 Years, a Diploma Technical student and  Chiadaka Odinga- aged 20 Years, 200 Level Theatre Arts student.

The Inspector General’s statements confirmed criticisms by witnesses that the police simply abandoned the students to their fate when they got to the scene of lynching.

A relation of one of the victims actually accused the police of encouraging the mob to kill the boys.

Mr Abubakar said the Police immediately launched an investigation leading to the arrest (based on information) of Alhaji Hassan Welewa, the Traditional Ruler of Omukiri Community, Aluu where the heinous incident took place and 18 others, some of whom are members of the vigilante group of the community.

According to the police “intelligence report implicated Alhaji Hassan Welewa, as being the person who incited the mob to unleash terror on the victims.”

“Further investigation conducted by the police indicates that four (4) suspects, namely: Felemo Solomon; Cynthia Chinwo; Ozioma Abajuo and Chigozie Samuel Evans have been closely linked to this barbarous act.”

Mr Abubakar gave the assurance that the perpetrators of the Aluu massacre will be made to face the law, saying “may I assure Nigerians that the Police Force will do everything legitimate, within its capacity, to ensure that perpetrators of these dastardly acts at Aluu in Rivers State are identified and made to face the law”

Explaining the reason that lead to the boys visit to Aluu, the statement revealed that “the victims had gone to the area where they met their unfortunate death earlier that morning to demand for money allegedly owed to them by Coxson Lelebori Lucky, alias ‘Bright’, who raised a false alarm that the victims were armed robbers.”

“Although, Coxson has gone underground, Detectives are on his trail” the statement added.

Abubakar said the police have in the meantime made a  massive deployment of Policemen  to the area, including detectives to assist the State Police Command, adding that “investigation is ongoing with efforts being intensified to track down others who are involved in the incident. Those who are found culpable shall be prosecuted.”

“Normalcy has been restored in the area, while the situation in the area, especially in the University and other tertiary institutions are being closely monitored with a view to forestalling any untoward reactions.

“Efforts are being intensified to establish the motive(s) behind this crime, arrest all who may be directly or indirectly connected with the crime and eventually bring all indicted persons to book.”

“I wish to use this medium to advice and appeal to Nigerians to see it as their civic obligation in the fight against crime and criminality, to assist security agencies in the discharge of their responsibility. Security is everybody’s responsibility and so, should not be abandoned in the hands of security agencies alone. The maximum cooperation of the public is needed to ensure that Nigeria is safe for all” the Police boss appealed to all Nigerians.

He called on Nigerians to discourage the vigilante mentality saying “Nigerians are further reminded to avoid taking laws into their hands, as two wrongs can never make a right.  More so, it is criminal and against the laws of the land and those that do so will surely be made to face the full wrath of the law.”

The IGP also appealed to citizens who might have information touching on this and other on-going Police investigation not to hesitate in turning over such information to the Nigeria Police Force.

13 arrested over killing of four UNIPORT students for stealing

Thirteen persons, including the Chief of the Omokere Aluu community, in River State, have been arrested in connection with the killings of four students of the University of Port Harcourt, who were accused of stealing.

The Nigerian cyber world is currently frenzying over a video allegedly from Omokere Aluu community in Rivers state, showing a mob action that led to beating, killing and burning of four young men, allegedly for stealing.

The gory video which was published on various websites, late Saturday night, showed how the crowd lynched the four naked men who were eventually set ablaze after three of them went unconscious.

The victims of the mob action have been identified as Lloyd, Tekena, Ugonna and Chidiaka. They were said to be students of the University of Port Harcourt.

The Police Public Relations Officer in Rivers state, Mr. Ben Ugwuegbulam, who confirmed the arrest stated that some arrests were made in Aluu, adding that any person found not culpable would be released.

“The Rivers state police command is strongly opposed to such barbaric conduct, and has commenced diligent investigation into the matter,” he said.

He added that the video was forming part of the investigation.

Conflicting reports trail the reason behind the jungle justice meted on the unfortunate victims.

While some said the victims were robbers and stole blackberry phones and laptops, another report said they were on a debt recovery mission before they were mistaken for robbers.

However, Nigerians have taken to different social media platforms to express their outrage at the killings, calling for a quick investigation and arrest of identified members of the mob.