Prominent Islamic clergyman, Sheikh Ahmad Gumi, has denounced the stance of the Federal Government with respect to media reporting and coverage of the wavering insecurity in Nigeria.
However, the cleric contended that the reports merely revealed the politics of insecurity, the genesis of the crisis, and how bandits and terrorists virtually took control of several communities in the North West.
The sheikh argued that the BBC documentary captures the real events in Zamfara State and was done professionally with the highest ethical standards that seek solutions to consistent attacks on vulnerable communities.
The cleric, speaking in a statement on Friday, applauded local and international media organisations for their bravery in reporting the magnitude of the insecurity, the government’s failing strategy to eliminate the crisis, and how it has turned a lucrative business for the criminals alongside few in the position of power and authority.
The statement partly read: “FG’s attempt in trying to find a scapegoat to justify its glaring failure after wasting over $16 billion in the last seven 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,”.
He also marvelled at why the government could not employ such independent discovery to squarely address the crisis, rather than sanction the producers.
Gumi said claims that the BBC and others like Trust TV are giving unnecessary publicity to bandits, and their activities or promoting terrorism are unfortunate, myopic, and mischievous.
While explaining that the government’s attempt was to blackmail media houses, he added that it is doing so to conceal its failure and divert public scrutiny into high-level corruption in military spending and budgetary allocations.
He, therefore, encouraged the media not to be intimidated or succumb to official blackmail but should always hold the government accountable, particularly in view of its failure to protect lives and properties despite the billions at its disposal, Channels TV reports.
“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,” he said.
“What do you expect from a society (Fulani) that was 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 victims to the official extortion of their cows. I have well-documented evidence involving some security agents in which I personally intervened. How do you expect as a government to address insecurity, especially related to Fulani bandits without addressing such instances of extortion and rustling?”
He urged the government that rather than using the instruments of authority to silence or blackmail the media, the security chiefs should be held accountable and responsible for any failure.
“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?” the cleric quizzed.