The Kaduna-based Islamic cleric, Ahmad Gumi, has condemned the Nigerian government for its threat to sanction the BBC and Trust Television for publishing interviews with terrorists operating in Nigeria’s troubled north-west region.
The Minister of Information, Lai Muhammad, on Thursday, said the government will sanction the BBC and Trust Tv for airing documentaries that he claimed glorified terrorism in Nigeria.
Describing the BBC documentary as ‘unprofessional,’ he said it gave warlords and terror gangs a chance to promote terror.
He condemned the BBC for not upholding the same standards and tenets as it would have done in the UK.
The minister also condemned Trust Tv, owned by Media Trust Ltd, for interviewing a terrorist, Shehu Rekeb.
Mr Gumi in a statement by his spokesperson, Tukur Mamu, said the BBC documentary reveals the politics of insecurity, the genesis of the crisis and how terrorists have overrun several communities across the Northwest region.
The cleric commended local and international media organisations like the BBC and Daily Trust for their courageous reporting of the insecurity in the region.
He said the news organisations have exposed the faulty approach of the Nigerian government to tackling the crisis and how it has become a lucrative business for criminals and some government officials.
“Federal Government’s attempt in trying to find a scapegoat to justify its glaring failure after wasting over $16 billion in the last 7 years without any commensurate result on security and efforts to blackmail certain media organisations for their patriotism in reporting the crisis is unfortunate and should be resisted by all responsible media organisations,” Mr Gumi said.
“The BBC Africa Eye documentary reflects the actual happenings in Zamfara state and that it was ‘done professionally with the highest ethical standards’ that seeks solutions against consistent attacks on vulnerable communities and wondered why the government will not use such independent discovery to squarely address the crisis.
“The opinion of some media executives regarding the BBC report and the claim that the BBC and others like Daily Trust are giving undue publicity to the bandits and their activities or promoting terrorism is unfortunate, myopic and mischievous.
“FG attempts to blackmail media houses to cover its failure and to divert public scrutiny into high-level corruption in military spending and budgetary allocations.”
Mr Gumi urged the media not to be intimidated or to succumb to official blackmail and to always make the government accountable especially given the failure to protect lives and properties despite the billions at their disposal.
“What is happening in Nigeria today especially in the North West as clearly captured by the BBC is more of an ethnic war and reprisal killings and attacks due to the government’s failure to address well-documented instances of injustices that were initially done to the Fulanis.
“What do you expect from a society (Fulani) that were left in total ignorance and lack of education especially when their primary means of livelihood (cattle) has been completely rustled by other criminal elements within and outside our security agencies without any effort by the government to address the injustice.
“As I talk to you now, cattle rustling has not stopped. Many law-abiding Fulanis have fallen victim to the official extortion of their cows. I have well-documented evidence involving some security agents that I intervened with. How do you expect as a government to address insecurity especially related to Fulani bandits without addressing such instances of extortion and rustling?”.
“The frightening development now is that the Boko Haram terrorists have infiltrated the Fulani bandits and that the bandits are gradually being indoctrinated into their (Boko Haram) religious belief and mission.
Instead of the government trying to find a scapegoat in the media or blackmail the media, “President Buhari should make his security chiefs to be fully accountable and responsible for any failure and to account for the billions of naira at their disposal.
“When a Commander-in-Chief rewards failure with ambassadorial appointments in a system and a society that records increased attacks, when security agencies cannot even protect Abuja and especially when the Guards Brigade cannot even protect themselves not to talk of the president, then why blame the media for such failure and ineptitude for reporting it?” Mr Gumi said.
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