A renowned Islamic scholar, Sheik Ahmad Gumi, has criticized the Federal Government for its threat to punish news organizations for reporting on the country’s continuing insecurity.
Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, announced on Thursday that Trust TV and the BBC would be sanctioned for publishing documentaries on banditry.
A respected scholar, however, said that the government is trying to divert public attention away from military spending and budgetary allocations, which are the subjects of high-level corruption, by blackmailing the media into covering its failures.
He praised the courage of local and international news organizations in reporting on the extent of insecurity in the region.
According to him, the ethno-religious war and reprisal killings and assaults taking place in Nigeria’s North West region, as recorded by BBC, are a result of the government’s unwillingness to deal with past instances of injustice to the Fulani people.
What kind of society (Fulani) would you expect to see when the primary means of livelihood(cattle) has been completely rustled by other criminal elements from within and outside of our security agencies, leaving them in total ignorance and lack of education?
“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 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 is that the Boko Haram terrorists have infiltrated the Fulani bandits and that the bandits are gradually being indoctrinated into their (Boko Haram) religious belief and mission.
He advised the government that instead of trying to find a scapegoat in the media or using instruments of authority to silence or blackmail the media, Gumi had requested President Buhari to make his security Chiefs accountable and responsible.
“It is alarming that when a Commander-in-Chief rewards failure with Ambassadorial appointments in a system and a society that records increased attacks, Abuja is not even secure. 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?” he asked.
Gumi urged the media not to be intimidated or succumb to official blackmail and to always make government be accountable especially in view of the failure to protect lives and properties despite the billions at their disposal.