By Ibrahim Usman
While the people in Zaria are still mourning their dead and nursing their injured from the recent shootings perpetrated by the Nigerian military at the end of the annual Quds Day peaceful procession, the assailants, having failed in their heinous act, and the with growing evidences unmasking their faces, decided to execute further violence to save their faces.
The National Daily newspaper, Lagos-based, had always been readily available and at hand to do the dirty work. This time around, it came up with a concocted and fabricated story laced with lies and insidious intent.
“My sons’ blood cry for vengeance” was the headline of the story published as a direct statement falsely attributed to Sheikh Zakzaky. This is not the first time the medium was used to target the Islamic Movement in Nigeria, in the attempt to justify state-sponsored terrorism.
Through the usual imaginary “highly informed sources” as its base and platform, the National Daily alleged that Sheikh Zakzaky plans to use violence to avenge the death of his three sons killed by the Nigerian military. It says, “Highly informed sources disclosed to National Daily that El-Zakzaky the leader of Islamic movement in Nigeria in collaboration with Islamic fundamentalist organization oversea has commenced plans to unleash a new religious unrest across the country any moment from now. El-Zakzaky has also said that Nigeria will pay a price for shedding the blood of his children during a protest march by the sect”.
One wonders what the National Daily is up to. Ever since after the unfortunate shootings in Zaria, there had been press conference and interviews, as well as public statements by Sheikh Zakzaky regarding the stand of the Islamic Movement on the issue. Since then, the Sheikh had been freely accessible to the press and public for condolence, National Daily was never at hand, and had not published a story on the issue. From far and near, objective views can easily be accessed and assessment made on the Islamic Movement and Sheikh Zakzaky through the Movement’s multi-lingua websites as well as its English and Hausa newspapers. National Daily overlook all these and went ahead to publish an uncouth story devoid of professionalism.
Looking at the gravity of the dangerous allegation, it could not have been an idea of a mere reporter. It is a well calculated and formulated plan by the same people who committed the atrocities in Zaria, with the National Daily a tool and platform. In the face of the many relatively good stories published or aired by the media on the issue, what could have possibly be of benefit to just one reporter from the National Daily, out of many, by this dangerous allegation?: “National Daily learned that some Islamic faithful close to El-Zakzaky are allegedly working on plans to take violent actions reminiscence to the present Boko Haram insurgence in the country having seized the initiative from their leader, El-Zakzaky”. It went further, through its faceless source to insinuate that, “Sheik will make his enemies pay for the blood of his three sons. The faithful will not die in vain,” our source said, adding “Sheik said the blood of his three sons is crying to heaven for vengeance… There is growing fear that El-ZakZaky, supporters may take up arms to protest the killing of El-Zakzaky children, the same way Boko Haram sect took up arms against the Nigeria state when its leader, Mohammed Yusuf was extra-judicially murdered by the Nigeria police…”
Obviously, the National Daily is sponsored by the military under a guided ready-made script to write its story to cover up the atrocities committed in Zaria, and commit further atrocities, having failed in the first stage. Any keen observer of the Quds Day shootings in Zaria will dismiss the report by the National Daily as a calculated mischief. For instance, the public could not have failed the read of the visit of Group Chairman of Leadership Newspapers, Sam Nda Isaiah with contingent of journalists, where commended Sheikh Zakzaky’s restraint thus: “We commend your leadership attribute and the dignity you exemplified. We wonder how many leaders could contain this and remain calm, even when they lost 3 of their children this way. We are very proud of this attribute. If leaders were like you, the world would have been a better place to live”.
Asked by Liberty Radio on what he intends to do, Sheikh Zakzaky replied: “I will not do anything that will bring about the loss of innocent lives in the society. The people did not kill my sons”. Premium Times online medium had also conducted an exclusive interview with the Sheikh and titled it, “Sheikh El-Zakzaky Says Sect Will Seek Legal Redress Against Military Onslaught”. Where was National Daily all this while?
The National Daily always appeared, only on such critical moments, to justify state-sponsored terrorism and bail Nigerian security out of its predicament. In 2009, National Daily was equally available to justify the shooting of two members of the Islamic Movement during the Quds Day peaceful protest by the Kaduna State police command under Tambari Yabo Mohammed in Zaria on September 20. It said on its front page dated 25-27th September, 2009, “Kaduna boils again: Boko Haram, Shiite group plan massacre”. Like the present one, the story was based on falsehood. It tried to link the Islamic Movement with the so-called Boko Haram: “Members of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria otherwise known as Shiite Movement, appeared ready to continue the Jihad began by the embattled Islamic group popularly known as Boko Haram”.
We will not be surprised if in the near future we hear of government sponsored group claiming to be members of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria vowing to take revenge. We will not also be surprised also if, anonymous press statement will start flying about with the same intent, for the stage has been prepared by the malicious publication by the National Daily. By this publication, the Nigerian may try to create its own “Shiite group”, the “restive followers who are already agitating”, to unfold its dangerous agenda.
As an act of civility, we call on the National Daily to immediately withdraw the story and offer unreserved apology. Failure to make such redress will prove that the newspaper is promoting culture of violence and terrorism, and will be accountable for its action through legal means.
Media Forum of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria