Northern Islamic cleric, Sheikh Abubakar Ahmad Gumi, has implored the Federal Government not to use its inability to end the insecurity in the nation to blackmail the media.
Gumi was reacting to the decision of the government in an investigative documentary by the BBC Africa Eye that revealed the beginning of the insecurity in the country, its politics and how bandits and terrorists eventually took control of several communities across the North West.
Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, had stated that the government would penalize the organization over the documentary.
But speaking during his weekly lecture in Kaduna, yesterday, Gumi complimented local and international media organizations for massively coming out to report the height of insecurity, the government’s wrong approach in addressing the crisis and how it has become a lucrative business for terrorists and few persons in positions of power and authority.
“The Federal Government’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 organizations for their patriotism in reporting the crisis is unfortunate and should be resisted by all responsible media organizations,” he said.
He noted that the BBC Africa Eye documentary portrays the actual happenings in Zamfara State, adding that it was done professionally with the stated ethical standards that requests solutions against recurring attacks on vulnerable communities and wondered why the government would not make use of such independent discovery to squarely resolve the crisis.
Gumi stressed that the statement by some media executives that the BBC Africa Eye report and others was giving unjustified publicity to the bandits and their operations or promoting terrorism was unfortunate, myopic and mischievous.
He stated that the Federal Government was trying to blackmail media organizations so as to cover up its downfall and divert attention from public scrutiny into high-level corruption in military spending and budgetary allocations.
Gumi implored the media not to be deterred or fall for the official blackmail, stating that they should always make the government accountable especially in view of its inability to safeguard lives and property despite the billions at their disposal.
He said that what was happening in Nigeria today, particularly in the North West zone, was clearly explained by the BBC as more of an ethic war and reprisal killings and attacks due to the government’s failure to resolve well-documented instances of injustices that were initially done to the Fulanis.
He questioned: “What do you expect from a society (Fulani) that were 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 Fulani have fallen victims of official extortion of their cows. I have well-documented evidence involving some security agents that 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 noted that the dreadful development now was that the Boko Haram terrorists have infiltrated the Fulani bandits, unveiling that the bandits were gradually being indoctrinated to their (Boko Haram) religious belief and mission.
He implored the government against trying to seek a scapegoat in the media or using instruments of authority to mum or blackmail the media.
“President Buhari should make his security Chiefs to be fully accountable and responsible for any failure and to account for the billions of naira at their disposal.
“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 blaming the media for such failure and ineptitude for reporting it?” Gumi lamented.