An Assessment Of The Effectiveness Of Newspaper Coverage Of Kidnapping In Nigeria Comparative Study Of The Punch And Daily Vanguard

Project and Seminar Material for Mass Communication

An Assessment Of The Effectiveness Of Newspaper Coverage Of Kidnapping In Nigeria Comparative Study Of The Punch And Daily Vanguard


The issue of terrorism has attracted global attention. In Nigeria in particular, the terrorist abduction of over 276 Chibok school girls attracted the highest global attention. Hence, this study was set to the assessment of the effectiveness of newspaper coverage of kidnapping in Nigeria comparative study of the punch and daily vanguard on abducted Chibok school girls. It analyzed the content of four Nigerian newspapers: The Vanguard and punch newspapers in their coverage of abducted Chibok school girls in Borno state from April 2014 to September 2014. The researcher systematically selected a sample size of 112 editions of the four newspapers for six months to generate data for the study. 79 editions out of the sample do not have stories on Chibok girls while 115 editions of the total sample yielded 194 stories on Chibok girls which were analyzed. The major findings are that Nigerian newspapers down played the coverage of issues about Chibok girl’s abduction. The Nigerian newspaper coverage of the Chibok girl’s abduction suffered lack of in-depth and interpretative analysis. The findings showed that the volume of coverage was poor. The published materials were not given prominence by virtue of their placement or position in the newspapers as over 78.6% of them were placed in the inside pages of the newspaper. It was concluded that there was much of quantitative coverage than qualitative coverage because of the high disparity between the numbers of straight news items to interpretative news items. It was recommended that newspaper coverage of terrorism like Chibok girl’s abduction should be investigative and interpretative journalism-driven instead of mere reportage of straight news stories which doesn’t add much in the fight against terrorism and general information and education of the public.

Chapter One


1.1 Background of the Study

Civil unrest, terror threats, endemic corruption and ongoing abductions of Nigerians, including the well-publicised kidnapping of school-girls by terrorist group Boko Haram, underscore the continuing challenges of combating modern slavery in Nigeria. Modern slavery takes place within the context of human trafficking and, sometimes begins with kidnapping. Yet, kidnapping is not a new phenomenon. Religious parables found in the Holy Bible and the Holy Qur’an about the sly abduction of Prophet Joseph (may peace be unto him) are indications that kidnapping is as old as human history. However, Tzanelli (2006,p.128) mentioned that the modern usage of the term ‘kidnapping’ dates back to 17th-century Britain where infants (‘kid’) of rich families have been ‘napped’ (caught in the sleep) for ransom.

The trend is on the increase all over the world, because the Global Slavery Index (2014) reported that throughout 2014, men, women and children continue to be kidnapped in village raids and held as slaves by militias in eastern DRC (Democratic Republic of Congo). In April and May 2014, 267 women and girls suffered sexual violence by armed groups. In Nigeria, also, kidnapping is ongoing since the early 1990s (Hazen & Horner 2007). Tzanelli (2006,p.128) Kidnappings continue to contribute to a climate of insecurity in the South East, the Niger Delta and the South-western region. Hostages have most recently also been taken in the states of Northern Nigeria. Between 2008 and 2010, the Nigeria Police Force recorded 887 cases across the country (Action on Armed Violence, 2013).

Kidnapping is taking place everywhere in Nigeria; it is a national problem that has eaten so deep into the fabric of the country but it takes place more in the moment of terrorism, insurgency and other forms of political violence. The kidnapping of 250 girls in a girls’ secondary school in Chibok, Borno State in 2014 and many more by Boko Haram represent the growing incidence of the kidnapping in Nigeria (Dodo, 2010).

Hazen and Horner (2007,p.65) reported that some groups in the Niger Delta have used the kidnapping of international oil workers to raise international attention regarding the plight of those living in the Delta, the environmental damage caused by oil spills and the oil industry, and the demand for more local ownership of the extraction of natural resources. The use of this tactic has not been entirely political in nature, as there are reports of significant ransom payments, which have then been used to fund the activities of these groups further. In fact, the tactic has proven so lucrative that a number of criminal groups appear to have taken on the task in order simply to make money. Apart from generating money, kidnapping has other serious consequences on the victims and their relatives, as well as the State at large. This requires a systematic examination of the problem in order to identify its underlying factors and its devastating consequences for policy recommendations for tackling the problem in Nigeria and beyond. There are other studies previously conducted on the kidnapping phenomenon. Freeman

(2016,p.8) studied the incident of kidnapping at the international level but she confined it to child abduction, though she viewed it from the global perspective. File-Muriel (2013.p.16) also investigated the problem of kidnapping but set focused mainly on political kidnapping. A closer study was conducted by Uzorma and Nwanegbo-Ben (2014,p.66) on the subject of kidnapping and hostage-taking in the South-eastern Nigeria. Their study narrowed it the Southern Nigeria, where the causal factors might be limited to economic while the dominant factor for kidnapping in the South-south is environmental struggle, and in the Northwestern and Northeastern parts could be poverty and terrorism, respectively.

However, Kidnapping is a dreadful challenge that disrupts the tranquility and harmonious consolation of the country. Suffice to say, this study discovered that kidnapping has spread to the nukes and crannies of Nigeria as a result of poverty, unemployment, idleness, frustration and desolation among the youths which enthuse frustrated member to gang up in order to carry out brutality and criminality. In the view of this, Dodo, (2010,p.14). concludes that unemployment has been a major problem in most countries in the world. Nigeria, as a developing country is witnessing high rate of youth unemployment which has become one of the major threats to its national security.

It is imperative to note that youths are the potential leaders of any given country in the world because the youths constitute a formidable force and if their energies are properly channeled, there will be immense growth and development in that country but if their energies are dissipated on activities that are detrimental to National development such country experience myriads of problems such as unemployment, poverty, bad governance, religious violence, terrorism, cultism, militancy and kidnapping (Tzanelli, 2006).

In the same vein, Ibrahim, (2016) opines that, the parental neglect, lack of proper counseling, poor skill acquisition and drop-out of school syndrome by youths have led many youths to migrate from rural areas to cities to meander around major roads where they have been seduced with cash benefit and conscripted into various types of gangs or secret cults where they have been trained as ethnic militia to unleash terror on other innocent people of their sponsors in the society.

1.2 Statement of the Problem

Security of lives and property is one of the issues that attracts the attention of both the masses and government of a given society indeed, any breach of security whether in the form of kidnapping, abduction, bomb explosion and so on, which could result in physical injury against a victim, destruction of properties or loss of human lives is usually least appreciated by most peace loving individuals, groups and governments alike. Yet, it appears that a breach of security in Nigeria particularly kidnapping, is becoming more rampant than ever before in recent years.
One would reason that the mass media which has a social responsibility to provide the public with adequate information about certain incidents in the society, could have paid greater attention to issues bordering on kidnapping and inform the public accordingly. While the broadcast media may not have assigned more air-time to such issues because of too many other programmes, it is assumed that magazine reports on those issues may not have been adequately given the periodic nature of magazine. It therefore becomes pertinent to ask the basic question: to what extend did Nigerian newspapers report kidnapping in the country.

1.3 Objectives of the Study

The objective of this study is therefore stated as follows:

  1. To investigate the causes of kidnapping in Nigeria
  2. To determine the frequency with which kidnapping is covered in the selected Nigerian newspapers.
  3. To determine the prominence given to the reporting of kidnapping in the selected Nigerian Newspapers.
  4. To determine the depth of coverage given to kidnapping in the selected Nigerian Newspapers.
  5. To determine the direction of reportage of kidnapping stories in Nigerian Newspapers, the Punch and the Vanguard.

1.4 Research Questions

In this study, an attempt will be sufficiently made to answer the following questions.

  1. What are the causes of kidnapping in Nigeria?
  2. What is the covered in the selected Nigerian Newspapers?
  3. What is the prominence given to the reporting of kidnapping in the selected Nigerian Newspapers?
  4. What is the depth of coverage given to kidnapping in the selected Nigerian Newspapers?
  5. What is the direction of reportage of kidnapping stories in Nigerian newspapers, The Punch and the Vanguard?

1.5 Significance of the Study

The fundamental importance of this work will definitely not be underestimated. The study will surely be of salient relevance to the reader whom it would enable to know the role of the press in crisis situations. Hopefully, this study will while developing the body of knowledge in this area which is still a contemporary one, will definitely help the reader to know the quality and quantity of coverage given to the Chibok school girls’ abduction saga by the Nigerian press. To the practicing journalist too, this work will without doubt have enormous benefit on how to cover and report crisis, civil disturbances and wars of different dimension(s) like the latest guerrilla tactics adopted by the Boko Haram insurgence in Nigeria’s North-East. More so, the study will provide a good reference material for people who shall be researching on the newspaper coverage of the abducted Chibok schoolgirls in the future.

1.6 Scope of the Study

This study covered the assessment of the effectiveness of newspaper coverage of kidnapping in Nigeria comparative study of the punch and daily vanguard on abducted Chibok school girls by the Boko Haram terrorist group on the 14th of April, 2014. The study traced the quantitative and qualitative elements of news feature, editorials, letters and opinion articles, pictures and cartoons as reported in the punch and daily vanguard newspapers from April 2014 to September 2014. Also done by the study is the measurement of the content of the two daily newspapers and their extent of coverage, and equally presents the results in the tables and charts.

1.7 Definition of Terms


Oxford Advance Learners Dictionary of Current English (8th Ed.) defined abduction as the act of taking somebody away illegally, especially using force. The synonym given to it is kidnapping. Hence, both abduction and kidnapping were interchangeably used in the study to mean the same thing.

Chibok Schoolgirls:

The female schoolgirls abducted on the April 14, 2014, by Boko Haram gunmen from Government Girls Secondary School, Chibok, Chibok local government area, 114 kilometres away south of Maidugiri, Bornu State, Nigeria.


Newspapers according to Encyclopedia Britanica (2008, p.16), are “publications usually issued on a daily or weekly basis”. In his definition, Agba (2001, p.37) emphasized that, “when we talk of newspapers, we are referring to a broad range of publications from the huge metropolitan dailies to the small provincial papers”.

Newspaper Coverage:

This is also referred to as press coverage. According to Okigbo (1987, p.23) in his work ‘The news flow controversy: Professional Journalists’ evaluation of news imbalance’, “press coverage is the art of gathering, collecting, processing, recording, and disseminating news and information through the process of mass communication which includes newspapers, magazines, radio and television”.

Chapter Five

Summary, Conclusion and Recommendation

5.1 Summary

The research was an in-depth study of the assessment of the effectiveness of newspaper coverage of kidnapping in Nigeria comparative study of the punch and daily vanguard a case study Chibok school girl’s abduction between April 2014 to September 2014. A systematic random sampling of the Vanguard and punch newspapers was used to collect the sample. A sample size of 112 generated 194 items to enable to researcher to answer the research questions posed in the study. Each research question was answered in relation to the unit of analysis. The data generated from the two newspapers were able to proffer answers to the research questions. However, it was found that the Nigerian newspaper coverage of the abducted Chibok school girls, apart from being placed inside pages, suffered in-depth and interpretative analysis. findings showed that the Chibok school girls abduction did not receive prominence and fair coverage from the Nigerian press. This may be because stories on such violent crime were not development in nature.

It was discovered that almost all the news sources were local reporters of the newspapers from different parts of the country. The newspapers did not depend on news agencies a lot for their reports and that only a hand full of unidentified sources were recorded.

5.2 Conclusion

Based on the 112 editions of the two newspapers analyzed that yield 194 items, the following conclusions were arrived at. There is obvious disparity between quantitative and qualitative coverage. There was much of quantitative coverage of the incident than qualitative coverage. The number of straight news stories recorded without a commiserate number of interpretative news analysis like features, editorials, opinion articles, columns etc. explains this disparity. This concurs with the criticism against the media for failing to always conduct investigative reporting of incidents such as this to feed their audience with factual information and education. Thus, they did not give in-depth analysis and interpretative reporting on the Chibok school girl’s abduction.

The study also discovered that some newspapers barely covered the Chibok school girls kidnapping. A good example is The Vanguard newspapers with barely 32 published items on Chibok school girl’s abduction for six months. This shows the inconsistent nature of some newspapers who are only out to make profit through advertorials while their primary function of informing and educating the people on critical national issues as the Chibok school girls crisis continue to suffer. With all these knowledge, what could be done to alter the trend?

5.3 Recommendation

Based on the findings of this research, the researcher recommends as follows:

  1. The Nigerian press and journalist should engage in more affirmative reporting. They should give journalism a proper perspective, focusing on interpreting issues for effective information and co-relation function. They should be consistent with reports to avoid confusing the public.
  2. The press should give an interpretative reporting more often on any issue such as civil disorders and wars like terrorism and its associated crimes like the Chibok girls abduction. This should be done more than straight news for people to be better informed to make right decisions.
  3. The media should have a well planed style for reporting stories on terrorist acts like Chibok abduction in order not to glorify the situation. This well taught out plan would help the reporter fashion out better ways to tackle terrorism stories. This style might be an in-house style for the medium.
  4. It would be good for government to adopt a pre-emptive approach to the issue of terrorism. That is the major way government can be on top of the situation in the country. A situation where the government relies on responding quickly to terrorist attack is not enough. Government should strengthen its agencies and armed forces through further training and financial benefits, to keep them a step ahead of every terrorist attack in the country.

Let it be mentioned categorically that the scope of this research may not be able to offer answers to all the questions that such a work should answer. Therefore, this point provides a ready subject for further research.

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