Peter Nkanga, the BBC reporter who shot the documentary on Ahmed Isah, Berekete Family show presenter, has said the documentary was done to provide a “balanced and objective profile of the work Ahmed Isah, the Human Rights radio and the (work) Berekete Family show does.”
He also said he has received death threats since the controversial documentary was released to the public.
Mr Nkanga told a PREMIUM TIMES reporter that the BBC reached out to Mr Isah in 2020 “to spotlight the failed justice system and how Nigerians have resorted to alternatives for solutions to their problem.”
“We said to Ahmed, we want to document what you are doing, we want to understand why people are not going to the government but coming to Ahmed and the human rights radio because they believe they can get justice there instead of the government and government institutions.”
According to Mr Nkanga, Mr Isah agreed to the proposal of having them (BBC) document his everyday intervention.
“In the course of documenting how Ahmed operates, we got to speak to critics and hear criticisms from people who felt that the way Ahmed went about delivering justice is unethical. We told Ahmed about it and gave him the right of reply for balance… but he never responded.”
When this reporter asked Mr Nkanga about the criticisms received against Mr Isah, he directed this reporter to the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) and the Human Rights Commission whom he said the reports went to.
When this reporter reached out to NBC to confirm Mr Nkanga’s claims, Armstrong Idachaba, acting Director General of the commission, said complaints have come to the commission regarding “Ahmed’s conduct on air”.
“We told the BBC that we have received complaints from various groups and individuals; they came here to make enquiries in the process of their documentary. That is what we deal with everyday, it is not only Ahmed, we receive complaints from across the country concerning broadcasts that are actually offensive or are not fair to certain persons… ”
Mr Idachaba added that on many occasions, the commission has asked Mr Isah to offer the right of reply to persons involved in cases brought to him. He said Mr Isa has apologised “and offered a right of reply.”
Mr Nkanga complained that since the documentary went public, he has been receiving death threats “from Ahmed’s loyalists”. He said on two occasions, his numbers were announced on air, and due to the threats, he has gone into hiding.
“I am being threatened for doing my job as a journalist; for asking questions; numerous times, Ahmed was given the right of reply but he refused. We want to hold people accountable, we as journalists also need to be accountable. How can this be accountability when you release my number to the whole world to harass me?”
‘I hand Nkanga over to God-‘ Isah
This reporter spoke briefly with Mr Isah on the phone while he was at the police station on Tuesday after a reported invitation by the FCT police.
He said Mr Nkanga’s number was never announced on his programme.
“… the damage he (Peter) has done is not enough and he wants to do more. I did not announce his phone number. I do not have any business with Peter; he has done what he has done and I hand him over to God,” he said briefly. He did not give further details on the reason for the invite or the controversy.
The BBC had said in an official statement to PREMIUM TIMES, it will not take the threats against its reporter lightly and will involve the police, if neccesary.
“Since the BBC Africa Eye film has aired our reporter has been subjected to abuse and threats which we are taking seriously and will report to the police. It is completely unacceptable that journalists should suffer abuse for doing their jobs.
“Prior to broadcasting the film the BBC repeatedly reached out to Ahmed Isah offering a right of reply to questions regarding accusations from his critics but he declined. Since the BBC investigation has aired Mr Isah has apologised for his assault on the woman in the film.
“The film also showed the positive outcome Mr Isah achieved for a child who had been badly burnt and demonstrated the help and support he provided for her family. BBC Africa Eye is valued as a trustworthy and impartial source of news across the region and we will continue to report without fear or favour.”
Meanwhile, responding to an allegation levelled against him by Mr Isah that he “tried to set the broadcaster up with his wife”, Mr Nkanga told this reporter that “both families have known each other since 2012 and so he would not understand why his wife is dragged into the issues emanating from the documentary”.
Mr Isah came under public scrutiny after a BBC documentary which premiered on May 17, 2021, showed him losing control and slapping a lady identified as Susan.
Susan was accused of burning her little niece’s hair whom she claimed is a witch. From the documentary, the little girl suffered burns on her head. She is now undergoing treatment courtesy Mr Isah and concerned Nigerians.
After a public outcry, Mr Isah on Wednesday morning during the show apologised to Nigerians for his violent reaction. He was joined by several listeners, some of whom called in to apologise on his behalf.
Meanwhile, while apologising on the Brekete show, Mr Isah accused some unnamed persons, whom he said were being aided by Mr Nkanga and ‘his BBC’ crew of “plotting to kill him”.
Mr Isah, who did not provide any evidence, said someone called to warn him not to visit Anambra to follow up on an investigation mentioned in the documentary “as there were plans to attack him”.
According to him, “… I got a security call from someone in Anambra asking me not to come, that the people who were ‘pressuring’ me had planned to kill me…”
During the show, Mr Isah said the warning made him abandon the plan to visit Anambra. He also said he became suspicious when Mr Nkanga appeared to be unusually interested in the Anambra investigation.
Mr Isah was referring to a story of eight young boys who were allegedly abducted from their homes in Anambra State 20 years ago by an ex-senator from Anambra North.
According to the BBC documentary, “these boys were taken from their homes for allegedly throwing fireworks at the ex-senator who responded by sending vigilantes to round them and since 2001, no one has seen them”.
Mr Isa also accused Mr Nkanga of “trying to set him up with his wife”.
“Peter Nkanga, because he knows I like women, it appeared he wanted to set me up with his wife who at a time called me continuously saying ‘some kind things’ and when I asked she told me she was his wife and a lawyer…,” said Mr Isa.
The BBC has dismissed Mr Isah’s allegations.
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