Coverage of crime and violence in Nigerian media: matters arising

E. O. Soola

Abstract


Nigerias socio-political and economic landscape has been blighted by the endemic twin evil of crime and violence. Social responsibility media, framing, and attribution theories provide the theoretical anchor for this paper. Nigerian consumers of media products, like their counterparts in other cultures, are insatiably interested in, and are at times shocked and fascinated by, crime and violence, as covered in the media. The Nigerian mass media, acting both as mirrors of society and business enterprises, provide a daily diet of these crimes, howbeit deficiently. This deficiency is traceable to their episodic rather than thematic approach, their individual, instead of societal blame, and cause, rather than solution. Nigerian media, in many instances, fail to turn their searchlight on the undercurrents of crime and violence: the Nigerian system of justice and the issues and grievances that give rise to crime and violence in the society. The paper, as matters arising, critically examines the often ignored, and at best-perfunctorily handled, aspects of coverage of crime and violence in Nigerian media.
Nigeria’s socio-political and economic landscape has been blighted by the endemic twin evil of crime and violence of major, tragic and alarming proportions. The widespread frustration and deep sense of insecurity to life and property, occasioned by this epidemic, has become a matter of grave concern to government, security agencies and the Nigerian citizenry at large (Nwosu, 2003). The situation has become most critical, consequent upon the apparent helplessness of the law-enforcement agencies to stem the tide of the epidemic (Otudor, 2005, Adebayo, 2006, Adeyemi, 2006, Adeyemi, 2007, Iziguzo, 2007)
The state of insecurity in Nigeria today is such that it is not an overstatement to conclude that the Nigerian nation is under siege. And while the urban centres are more prone to crimes, neither the urban, the sub-urban nor the rural is immune to civil, ethnic, political and religious violence which, in the last decade or so, have plagued Nigeria and currently threaten to tear communities and ethnic groups apart.
The current spate of crime and violence in Nigeria dates back to the end of the Nigerian civil war in 1970 when arms began to filter through into unauthorised hands. The situation was exacerbated by prolonged military interregnum, its brute force and the violence that characterised it. The sacredness with which human life used to be held until the early 1970s, was soon thrown to the winds by miscreants and other criminals. The situation was further compounded by Nigerian media’s romance with foreign films which were generously laced with crime, violence and sex. The Nigerian home video, currently in vogue, is not better in that it thrives on similar themes – crimes, violence and sex.
Apart from the widespread availability of untracked arms, as well as crime and violence in the media, other possible causes of crime and violence include non-compulsory Universal Basic Education (UBE is made compulsory only on paper because of lack of political will and commitment to free education), widespread poverty (with Nigeria ranking 13th last poorest of the poor nations on earth), lack of social security for the aged and the unemployed, child abuse, incidents of violence in neighbourhoods and communities, (Azuatalam, O’neil & Okafor,2007, Adeyemi, 2007, Azuatalam, 2007) disintegration of the nuclear and kinship family networks, gender insensitivity, availability of drugs and unprecedented widespread availability of alcohol which either comes raw as locally-brewed gin, popularly referred to in the local language as “ogogoro”, or disguised in herbs, and fondly called “sungbalaja”, or “opa eyin”, literally translated as “lie flat, face-up” and “for the spinal cord” respectively, offered cure for all ailments under the sun! Drivers, touts, miscreants, political thugs and armed robbers buy such drugs and alcohol and take them even when they do not have either money or time to eat food!

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5789/1-1-43

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