Northern Islamic cleric, Sheikh Abubakar Ahmad Gumi, has advised the Federal Government not to use its failure to end the insecurity in the country to blackmail the media.
Gumi was reacting to the position of the government in an investigative documentary by the BBC Africa Eye that exposed the genesis of the insecurity in the country, its politics and how bandits and terrorists virtually took control of several communities across the North West.
Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, had said the government would sanction the organisation over the documentary.
But speaking during his weekly lecture in Kaduna, yesterday, Gumi commended local and international media organisations for coming out boldly to report the magnitude of the insecurity, the government’s wrong approach in tackling the crisis and how it has become a lucrative business for the criminals and few people 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 organisations for their patriotism in reporting the crisis is unfortunate and should be resisted by all responsible media organisations,” he said.
He said the BBC Africa Eye documentary reflects the actual happenings in Zamfara State, adding that it was done professionally with the highest ethical standards that seek solutions against consistent attacks on vulnerable communities and wondered why the government would not use such independent discovery to squarely address the crisis.
Gumi argued that the claim by some media executives that the BBC Africa Eye report and others was giving undue publicity to the bandits and their activities or promoting terrorism was unfortunate, myopic and mischievous.
He alleged that the Federal Government was trying to blackmail media organisations so as to cover up its failure and divert attention from public scrutiny into high-level corruption in military spending and budgetary allocations.
Gumi urged the media not to be intimidated or succumb to official blackmail, saying they should always make government accountable especially in view of its failure to protect lives and property despite the billions at their disposal.
He noted that what was happening in Nigeria today, especially in the North West zone, was clearly captured by the BBC as more of an ethic 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.
He queried: “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 government to address the injustice.
“As I talk to you, now cattle rustling has not stopped. Many law-abiding Fulani has fallen victims of official extortion of their cows. I have well-documented evidence involving some security agents with 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 said the frightening development now was that the Boko Haram terrorists have infiltrated the Fulani bandits, revealing that the bandits were gradually being indoctrinated to their (Boko Haram) religious belief and mission.
He advised the government against trying to find a scapegoat in the media or using instruments of authority to silence 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.