Ahmad Gumi, Islamic cleric, says the federal government is “trying to find a scapegoat” for its failure to tackle insecurity.
The cleric was reacting to the plan by the federal government to sanction some media organisations for “glorifying terrorism”.
In a 50-minute documentary titled ‘The Bandit Warlords of Zamfara’, published on Monday, the BBC Africa Eye provided insight into the mindset of bandit kingpins, the booming kidnap-for-ransom industry, and how Zamfara’s insecurity may have been brought on by the ethnic conflict between Hausa and Fulani groups.
In March, Daily Trust TV, an arm of Daily Trust Newspaper, published a special report and documentary which exposed major issues around banditry in Nigeria. Non-state actors like Bello Turji were interviewed in the documentary.
On Thursday, Lai Mohammed, minister of information and culture, said the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) and Daily Trust would be penalised over their documentaries on terrorism and banditry in Nigeria.
“Let me assure you, they will not get away with this naked glorification of terrorism and banditry in Nigeria,” Mohammad had said.
In a statement issued on Friday, Gumi said the federal government wants to “blackmail” the media organisations for their “patriotic” reporting.
“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 said.
“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?”