By Elohor Igbru
The plan by the Federal Government to sanction the British Broadcasting Corporation ( BBC) and the Daily Trust group over the airing of a documentary on insecurity in Zamfara state has come under heavy criticism.
The BBC had aired a 50-minutes documentary titled: The Bandit Warlords of Zamfara” which provided a deep insight into the philosophy and modus operandi of the bandits in the state.
Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed yesterday said the two media houses would be penalized for “ glorifying terrorism.”
Zamfara has been one of the worst hit states in northern Nigerian by armed Fulani bandits responsible for hundreds of abductions, ransacking villages and the displacement of thousands of people.
The security agencies under the Fulani President Buhari has not shown enough commitment to want to end the banditry even as it has crept into the federal capital territory with the assassination of soldiers in the President’s bodyguard.
An Islamic cleric, Ahmad Gumi who has at several times served as a negotiator to the bandits said the federal government is “trying to find a scapegoat” for its failure to tackle insecurity. The cleric said the government is trying to blackmail the media houses for their patriotic reporting.
Mohammed had said: “Let me assure you, they will not get away with this naked glorification of terrorism and banditry in Nigeria.”
But in a swift reply contained in a press statement, Gumi said: “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?”