JFC ends media project on IDPs, urges stakeholders to support displaced persons

Journalists For Christ (JFC) International Outreach has concluded a year-long project on

Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in Nigeria, calling for support for the affected persons.

The project titled Advancing the Rights and Welfare of IDPPs through Media Monitoring, Investigative Journalism and Media-Driven Advocacy, was supported by the World Association For Christian Communication (WACC) and Bread For The World – German Protestant Agency for Diaconia and Development

The implementation which began with a month of newspaper monitoring of four major newspapers in Nigeria

also called journalists to pitch for stories along IDP issues of which 20 pitches were selected.

The journalists were trained and given small grants to do their stories.

During the training, selected journalists were exposed to methods of reporting IDP issues empirically and attention was drawn to the importance of empathising with the IDPs in their plights using well-documented stories that could draw the attention of duty bearers to the sufferings of the displaced persons.

Meanwhile, the newspaper monitoring exercise that kicked off the project brought some revelations about how IDPs are reported.

Head monitor in the exercise, Funmi Falobi who led four other monitors said, “A lot of the times stories from the IDP camps focus mainly on the prominent people or government officials who visit the camps occasionally.”

According to Falobi who noted there were more news stories in the four newspapers cumulatively said most of them featured top personalities with and there were few feature stories. 

Facilitating a session at the workshop, the Deputy Director, of Training, at the Voice of Nigeria, Mrs Ugonma Cokey took participants through best practices in coverage of vulnerable persons in camps.

According to her, “Journalists must put themselves in the shoes of the IDPs in order to feel their pulse, this will generate the necessary empathy to produce a good story.”

However, 20 unique stories were published by journalists from various media organisations spread across the print and electronic media.

Earlier in January, journalists For Christ (JFC) facilitated a session in Abuja featuring stakeholders in the

IDP sector who interacted and further charted a course for the project.

One of the facilitators at the event, Enoch Yohanna, an IDP from Nigeria’s northeast gave an insight into what IDPs go through on a daily basis due to insurgency that displaced them.

“I have been displaced times without number. I was displaced from my home in Borno, I have also been displaced in Abuja. We have issues that are supposed to be of federal interest but such issues have not been addressed,” he lamented.

Meanwhile, the 20 trained journalists were supported with little grants to do their stories from various camps across the country.

A Summary of each of the 20 stories has been published in a journal titled ‘Silent Cries’ which is a reflection of stories of the IDPs from camps in various geo-political zones of Nigeria.

Reviewing the publication during the presentation in Lagos, Mr. Francis Abayomi, a member of the editorial board of Daily Independent newspaper, said about the publication, “Media actors, researchers, as well as general purpose readers will find baseline information provided as background to the publication hugely relevant in keeping track with the prevailing trend of media coverage of IDPs in Nigeria.”

He also said, “This publication therefore largely speaks to the salient issues underlining stories that touch the heart about the situations of IDPs but which are unknown precisely because they were largely under-reported or neglected. 

Highlights of the pitched stories as captured in the publication reflected the ‘Silent Cries’ of IDPs in Nigeria.”

The next leg of the public presentation happened in Abuja during which Abuja-based journalists among the writers were also recognised for unique articles that made up the publication.

Reviewing the publication, Seun Akioye who commended the work of the journalists was elated that such a project was done.

According to Akioye, a multiple award-winning journalist, the 20 journalists should be appreciated for doing fantastic stories already generating responses.

“I appreciate you all, it is not about the stipends that was given to you, but the heart, the compassionate journalism, the heart you took to the field to do that job. You might get a big grant and not give voice to the voiceless, I want to thank you and appreciate you,” he said at the presentation of the publication in


Akioye, a former correspondent at the Nation newspaper said, “‘Silent Cries’ is the summarized version of a special media report on the pains and aspirations of IDPs in Nigeria.”

“The main goal of this project is to bring to the public domain, issues of rights and denial affecting IDPs in Nigeria,” he said.

Defining IDP according to the United Nation’s Guiding Principles on International Displacements, Akioye said, “ IDPs are persons who have been forced or obliged to flee or to leave their homes or places of habitual residence in particular as a result of or in order to avoid the effects of armed conflict, the situation of generalised violence, violations of human rights or natural or human-made disasters and who have not crossed an internationally recognised border.”

He continued, “For some of us, Abuja is the place of our habitual residence and if we are forced to leave here for some other places, we are IDPs.”

He however noted that the project found some infractions of rights abuse, malnutrition gender-based violence, including sexual violence, hunger and starvation, dehumanising housing conditions, total and complete lack of access to education for their children and healthcare.”

Advocacies were also done with the publication to media houses to further raise awareness and support for IDPs.

During a media advocacy visit to the Nation newspaper, the News Editor of the newspapers, Mr. Bunmi Ogunmodede commended JFC for bringing the plights of the IDPs to the consciousness of the stakeholders.

“It is highly commendable that JFC has deemed it fit to focus on people almost forgotten. these days we hardly see core papers doing human angle stories, there were more human angle stories in those days,”  he said,  pledging support for the publication.

“If there is a way this can be amplified so that more people and people in authority can have more awareness of the issues on the ground. If those in authorities, see what they should do and do it, things will be better,” he said.

At the Silverbird Group, the National Head of News, Silverbird Group, Mr. Eshomomo Imoudu, who applauded the publication and enjoined more organisations to emulate what JFC has done for the IDPs in Nigeria.

Narrating what his organisation does in support of IDPs, he said, “At Silverbird, we go to the IDP camps all the time. We have our reports on IDPs on our Youtube channel. We have stories we have done over time and again, we have stories on the recent flood. On another show called ‘Issues In The News’, we have reported on IDPs.

“My argument has always been why do we have to wait till these things happen? As we fight for IDPs, we must care about the system of the government, that is where the media advocacy should be strong,” he said.

At the Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria (FRCN), Ikoyi, Director of Lagos Operation, Mrs. Bolanle Owoyemi, applauded JFC for the feat and called Christian journalists to step forward and identify with JFC.

“Christian journalists need to step forward, we have the voice, we have the number, we need to be involved. I’m happy about this publication and about Journalists For Christ,” she said.

Owoyemi also pledged the support of her organisation. “We will talk about the publication in our programs, to involve our news. We will talk about IDPs, mobilise Christians and others to reach out to IDPs even at Christmas, we will give publicity and pass the information about IDPs. I will pass the message on, we will involve our head of news, talk about the plights of IDPs and give it the push that is required,” she promised.

Deputy Director, Digital Media of the Voice of Nigeria (VON), Mrs. Mary Atolagbe, described the visit of JFC to VON as an august visit in November.

“Our Director General, Mr. Osita Okechukwu would have been here but he is in Abuja on an official engagement. I must thank JFC for the laudable project,” she said.

Atolagbe after being briefed on the reason for the visit, said, “People are displaced not because of their fault; what they did or what they did not do. For us at VON, this project will be like a compass for us to know what to do about IDPs in Nigeria.

“When we talk about IDP camps, people would think it is just about setting up camps and crowding people there but it is more than this. Even around us here, people are displaced because of floods, only that they are not taking shelter under the regular IDP camps but what happens to their livelihood? What happens to their children going to school? So for us at VON, we are making a commitment that we will make good use of this publication, pass the message to the authorities and we will do something about it,” she said.

Making a commitment on behalf of her station, Atolagbe who appreciated JFC on behalf of her DG said, “I want to thank you on behalf of our DG, Mr. Osita Okechukwu, we give you the commitment that after taking this publication, our news department and people packaging programs will make use of it. I am glad this is happening.”