The Federal Government has been condemned by outspoken Muslim cleric, Ahmad Gumi, over its threat to sanction the media for what the government called ‘glamourising terrorism’.
Gumi made this call in the wake of President Buhari’s government’s apparent incompetence to stem the tide of insecurity in the country, less than 24 hours after Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Muhammed, announced it would axe the BBC and Daily Trust for ‘glamourising terrorism’.
Mohammed, who was reacting to a 50-minute documentary titled: ‘The Bandit Warlords of Zamfara’, published on Monday, by the BBC Africa Eye, which centred on the operations of the terrorists involved in the sustained upsurge in high crimes in parts of the North, had warned that the organisation would be made to pay for it.
Abu Sanni, a self-confessed bandit kingpin, who appeared in the BBC interview, had provided some startling information, indicting top government officials, whom he said were neck-deep into the thriving market of kidnapping, which he described as a business, apart from revealing the motive for the onslaught carried out by the Fulani against the Hausa tribes in Zamfara and Katsina states.
The Minister, also pointed to a similar outing in March, by Daily Trust TV, of Daily Trust Newspaper stable, which exposed major issues around banditry in Nigeria, where it interviewed some non-state actors like Bello Turji also spoke extensively about their motives.
Mohammed, who said on Thursday that the two documentaries glorified and glamourised the menace of terrorism, besetting the country, had informed of a set of sanctions that would be meted out, adding that the appropriate Federal Government agencies would take up the matter.
“There is a body regulating broadcasting, which is the Nigeria Broadcasting Commission (NBC). It is also aware of these two incidents. It is looking at which part of the Broadcasting Code that has been violated by the BBC and Trust TV.
“The media is the oxygen that terrorists and bandits use to breathe. When otherwise reputable platforms, like BBC, can give their platform to terrorists showing their faces as if they are Nollywood stars, it is unfortunate.
“I want to assure them that they will not get away with it. Appropriate sanctions will be meted to both the BBC and the Trust TV. Let me assure you that they will not get away with the naked glorification of terrorism and banditry in Nigeria. If they are not registered in Nigeria and they are only sending their signals to Nigeria, we will ask them to stop sending the signal.
“I know that during the Irish Republican Army (IRA) days, the BBC would not have dared to do what they are doing now in Nigeria. It is because there is a country called Nigeria that they are operating here.”
But Gumi, in a quick riposte, tackled the FG, saying: “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.
“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?
“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?”