The state accused the paper of false reportage.
A Nassarawa State counsel, Sambl Vongjen, has demanded that Media Trust Nigeria Limited, publishers of Daily Trust, retract as well as apologise for two reports- “Nasarawa Govt sponsored mercenaries to murder Eggon People” and “Elders accuse Nasarawa govt of negligence” published on August 20 and 21 respectively.
The counsel argued that the two reports do not represent the facts of the memos presented by the Joseph Gbadeyan-led judicial commission of inquiry into the May 7 murder of security operatives in Alakyo and related crises in Nasarawa State.
Mr. Vongjen demanded that the commission order Media Trust to publish an apology in its paper, Daily Trust, that would run for three consecutive days.
“The publication in question does not reflect the true position of what happened at the Commission. The caption of the publication and the content are at variance with the contents of the memorandum referred to and we view this with great dismay,” he said.
The commission chairman, Mr. Gbadeyan, had invited the state correspondent of Daily Trust, Hir Joseph to defend the headlines of the said reports, as well as the use of the word “negligence.”
During his defence, Mr. Joseph referred the commission to page three of the memo by Eggon Cultural and Development Association, ECDA which read: “Observations/Sponsorship: we noted that government has given no serious attention to our distress calls whenever there is information of crisis (sic) since this incidence started.”
The reporter explained that the word negligence was based on the complaints in the memo from the Eggon communities.
The Eggon people had alleged that the state government under current governor Tanko Al-Makura had failed to intervene in no less than four invasions on more than 19 Eggon settlements in which 56 Eggon persons were killed, and property worth millions destroyed.
“All efforts to get the government to intervene even when they were informed of these impending attacks ahead of time failed. We recommend that government should be more proactive by standing up to its responsibility of protecting lives and properties,” the memo read.
However a counsel at the commission, Yakubu Hassan, who appeared with James Agbo in the case by the Hausa community of Bassa, argued that the issue raised by both the government counsel and the commission was not a matter for the commission to entertain.
He told the counsel to the state government on Wednesday that the commission is not holding brief for the state government.
Mr. Gbadeyan, a retired justice, overruled the government’s counsel after consulting with members saying, “The Commission is not holding brief for the State Government. The government can speak for itself. It is not our duty to so direct.”
He however appealed to the media to avoid sensational reporting.