SHEIKH Ahmad Gumi, an Islamic cleric has denounced the Federal Government’s stance on media reporting and coverage of the ongoing insecurity in the nation.
Gumi criticised the government’s intention to punish the BBC Africa Eye and TrustTv in particular for their recent stories, which he claimed revealed the politics of insecurity, the origins of the crisis, and how bandits and terrorists effectively overran numerous areas in the North West.
The clergyman praised local and foreign media outlets for bravely reporting on the severity of the insecurity, the government’s poor handling of the situation, and how it has turned into a rich industry for criminal elements and a select few in positions of authority.
In the statement, today, Gumi noted that the “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.”
Gumi said that the BBC Africa Eye documentary accurately depicts the events that actually occurred in Zamfara State and was produced with the highest ethical standards in order to find solutions to the ongoing attacks on vulnerable communities.
He questioned why, rather than punishing the manufacturers, the government could not use such unbiased discovery to directly address the situation.
To the cleric, assertions that the BBC and others, such as Daily Trust, are endorsing terrorism or giving bandits unfair attention are misguided, narrow-minded, and malicious.
He claimed that the government’s attempt to cover up its failure and deflect public attention away from the high-level corruption in military spending and budgetary allocations was to threaten media organisations.
Gumi consequently advised the media to constantly hold the government accountable and not to be intimidated or give in to official blackmail, especially in light of its failure to protect lives and property while having billions at its 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,” 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 recommended the government to hold the security chiefs accountable for any failures rather than using the instruments of power to intimidate or silence the media.