Kaduna State Islamic cleric, Sheikh Ahmad Gumi, has slammed President Muhammadu Buhari-led governmemt threat to sanction media reporting and coverage of the lingering insecurity in the country.
He particularly condemned the Federal Government recent threat to sanction the BBC Africa Eye and some other media houses over recent reports, which Gumi said exposed the politics of insecurity, the genesis of the crisis, and how bandits and terrorists virtually took control of several communities in the North West.
Gumi spoke through a statement he issued on Friday, applauding local and international media organisations for reporting about the level of the insecurity, the government’s wrong approach to tackling the crisis, and how it has become a lucrative business for the criminals and few in the position of power and authority.
“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,” The cleric said.
According to him, the BBC documentary, for which government said it would sanction the international media, reflected the actual happenings in Zamfara State and was done professionally with the highest ethical standards that seek solutions to consistent attacks on vulnerable communities.
He said rather than threatening to say sanction the media outfit, Buhari’s government should use such independent discovery to squarely address the crisis.
He added that the claim by the Federal Government that the BBC and other media houses are giving undue publicity to bandits, and their activities, or promoting terrorism are unfortunate, myopic, and mischievous.
He accused the government of attempting to blackmail media houses so as to cover its failure and divert public scrutiny into high-level corruption in military spending and budgetary allocations.
The Islamic cleric, then called the media not to be intimidated or succumb to official blackmail but should always make the government accountable, especially in view of its failure to protect lives and properties despite the 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.
“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?” Gumi said.
He went further to note that the frightening development now is that the Boko Haram terrorists, whom he believes have infiltrated the Fulani bandits, is that the armed men are gradually being indoctrinated to their (Boko Haram) religious belief and mission.
On what the government should do, Gumi said 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?” he asked.