Filmmaker, Editi Effiong who is mostly known for his movie UpNorth has been doing an amazing reportage of the Lagos State Judicial Panel of Inquiry and restitution for Victims of SARS related Abuses and Lekki Toll Gate Incident. The acclaimed filmmaker has given daily reportage including off the record moments of the panel via his Twitter handle @EditiEffiong. The reportage gains traction daily and it is one of the few factors keeping the fire that ignited the #EndSARS protests burning.
While some other states have also sworn in judicial panels, it is the Lagos state panel that is gaining the most traction with gut-wrenching accounts of atrocities committed by members of the now defunct Special Anti-Robbery Squad of the Nigerian Police Force. People on Twitter are talking about the panel by quoting tweets, replying to them, liking them and retweeting them.
On Saturday 21st November, the chairman of the panel, Justice Doris Okuwobi asked that the panel watch footage from the Lekki Tollgate submitted by the Lekki Concession Company. While reporting this event on their website, Channels TV used and acknowledged a picture of the Panel watching the video, shared by Editi Effiong. Ordinarily, many blogs and other less-rated media platforms use pictures and content sourced from personal social media accounts but for Channels, which is undoubtedly one of Nigeria’s most watched news media to use pictures from a citizen’s personal account shows that the citizen must be doing something right.
What Editi Effiong is doing is not new but it is commendable. Considering how fast paced events are in the world today, it is normal for news platforms to adopt live blogging on social media. Events like elections, media chats, debates and other events that happen in real time lend themselves to such reportage. During these events, media platforms crowd source information from citizens too but verification is usually a major challenge. Fake news is one of the major problems confronting Citizens Journalism and it is a valid fear. Many people tend to report events to suit personal narratives. There are many citizens who use their platforms for citizen journalism but they are reputed for being merchants of fake and unverified news.
This rise of citizen journalism, occasioned by the liberalisation of information is an ambivalent thing that should be used for good. It complements journalism and helps to strengthen press freedom and democracy in the country. Considering the stifling conditions that journalists have to work under in Nigeria, more citizens need to emulate Editi Effiong and cover the obvious information gap. There are several people with platforms and social capital like him, they only have to latch on that to inform people and further push social movements and continue raising awareness levels in the country.
“Ayọ̀délé Ìbíyẹmí is a lifetime student of Literature. He is also a reader who writes occasionally. For him, words are what makes the intractable world livable. Ayo tweets at @Ayo_eagles. He was a Wawa Book Review Young Literary Critics Fellow and won the 2019 Ken Saro-Wiwa Prize for Book Review.”