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The BBC in Nigeria – Between Reporting and Propagating Terror – By Kadaria Ahmed



Kadaria Ahmad

It has simply gotten out of hand.

Journalists and now a global media organisation of repute, the BBC, which should know better, are becoming a tool for terrorists, even if unwittingly, by amplifying the faces, voices and stories of killers and marauders who are still operating with impunity across Nigeria.

The public interest argument seems to have been misunderstood, some may even say misrepresented, to enable sensationalist reporting that is very unlikely to be allowed on screens in the United Kingdom. By not upholding the same standards as they would uphold in the UK, in their work in Nigeria, the BBC Africa Eye producers in their latest documentary titled ‘The Bandits Warlords of Zamfara’ have provided a global platform to terrorists and can be accused of becoming an accomplice to terror in the name of reporting it.

When Communications Professor at the University of Toronto Mahmoud Eid coined the term Terroredia, in his book Exchanging Terrorism Oxygen for Media Airwaves, Eid argues that there is now a ‘relationship between terrorists and media professionals in which acts of terrorism and media coverage are exchanged, influenced, and fuelled by one another.’ Since it was written 7 years ago, it would appear the case Eid was trying to make is now quite self-evident, especially in Nigeria where increasingly, propaganda videos and statements by terror groups as well as features on terror leaders are finding their way into mainstream media. We can now easily identify, for example, the faces of the major kingpins responsible for the widespread kidnappings and killings that are occurring on a daily basis in the Northern part of Nigeria, no thanks to having their pictures and videos splashed all over the pages of newspapers and on our television screens almost as if they are Nollywood A-listers.

None of this has ‘helped’ our inept government, led by President Muhamadu Buhari, to find and arrest these blood-thirsty criminals. The ‘pressure’ has also not stopped the administration from playing ostrich and finding an effective way of tackling insecurity. These are some of the public interest arguments put forward by those defending the featuring of predatory criminals on national and now international media platforms.

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The arguments also include an assertion that hearing from terrorists helps us better understand the conflicts and therefore come up with solutions. Under the guise of public interest, this is the argument that BBC Africa Eye seems to be presenting, to justify its decision to actively give copious screen time to self-confessed murderers and kidnappers, who are still actively involved in attacking communities, killing, kidnapping, pillaging and generally making life brutish and a living hell for the people of Nigeria’s North-western State of Zamfara and beyond.

The two promotional clips released for the documentary, the Bandits Warlords of Zamfara , feature a marauder who should remain nameless here, confirming that he was part of those who raided Jengebe girls’ secondary school in the state, abducting over 300 students with the attendant horror of these sorts of crimes normally entail, and releasing them, after the payment of ransom. Evidently, the BBC Africa Eye team also had no problem utilising footage that appears to have been shot by these self-confessed criminals because this makes it into the second trailer. No media of repute would take this decision because it is generally understood that these sorts of videos are recorded by terrorists for one thing and one thing only: propaganda.

Reports of the documentary in national newspapers also quote one of the featured criminals boasting, in the documentary, that he only kills, and doesn’t kidnap for ransom. This is the nature of the program that the ‘reputable’ BBC Africa Eye is positioning as having a public interest imperative.

To be clear, the current state of insecurity and all that it entails is the fault of the Federal Government, led by President Muhammadu Buhari, and he must be held responsible for the carnage and state of anarchy engulfing the nation. That does not however mean irresponsible reporting by the media, which after all should champion the common man, should not be challenged.

If terrorists were killing and kidnapping British citizens, especially young children, the BBC would not enable interviews by the perpetrators, particularly if they were still roaming footloose and fancy-free, without an iota of remorse for their crimes and also carrying out many more. The trauma to the psyche of the British public will be unbearable, and the BBC would not be willing to pay that price, or risk the legal consequences sure to ensue.

In the era of the Irish Republican Army, the IRA, for example, the group didn’t make it onto the airwaves of the BBC. Indeed, reporting of the activities of the political party seen as the political arm of the IRA, Sein Fein, was heavily censored. Every time they spoke, the BBC deleted their voices and replaced them with those of actors, in obedience to British Government directives which were put in place because the authorities believed publicity is like air for ‘terrorists’ groups, helping them to grow and thrive. And even though Sein Fein shared what many might argue is only an ideological position with the IRA, they were denied a presence on British airwaves in substantial ways.

Here in Nigeria, concerns about the impact the amplification of terrorists’ voices will have both on victims, their families and the public appear to be a secondary consideration to the BBC’s insistence on hearing from the bandits’ first-hand accounts and justification for their murderous activities.

There is no good argument that can justify the damage this is doing to the public that includes the school girls in Jangebe, who can now in perpetuity, watch the story of their abductions from the mouth of their abductors and relive the attendant trauma of that horrible crime.

For all of these school girls, victims and their families, the BBC Africa Eye has confirmed their attackers’ invincibility. By documenting and handing over on a platter of gold one of the most respected media brands in the world to justify their actions, the BBC has iconised violent men leading marauding militias that are killing, abducting, maiming and leaving terror in their wake across large sways of Nigeria and who are clearly neither sorry for their crime nor looking to stop anytime soon.

It is hard to see how this will not contribute to deepening fear, mistrust, hopelessness and damage to the national psyche while undoubtedly helping with recruitment, all ingredients that actively contribute to successful outcomes for terror groups.

The public’s right to know is a sacrosanct tenant of journalists who are not and should not be in the job of censoring news. Finding the balance between that and ensuring media platforms do not provide the oxygen of publicity for terrorists and criminals is not easy, but it is at these difficult junctures that good journalism needs to stand its ground.

Recognising the importance of getting it right globally, experts including those at the BBC have taken the trouble to develop guidelines for reporting difficult stories including stories of conflict and terrorism. The German Press Code for example says “in reporting actual and threatened acts of violence, the Press should carefully weigh the public’s interest in information against the interest of victims and other people involved. It should report on such incidents in an independent and authentic way, but not allow itself to be made the tool of criminals. Nor should it undertake independent attempts to mediate between criminals and the police. THERE MUST BE NO INTERVIEWS WITH PERPETRATORS DURING ACTS OF VIOLENCE.’’

The German guidelines are unequivocal about not giving airtime to criminals involved in ongoing criminal activities and for very good reason. The BBC’s editorial guidelines are more watery, perhaps explaining why the BBC Africa Eye team is able to be cavalier about such a critical issue. But even these guidelines say “any proposal to approach an organisation (or an individual member of an organisation) designated a ‘terrorist group’ by the Home Secretary under the Terrorism Acts, and any proposal to approach individuals or organisations responsible for acts of terror, to participate in our output must be referred in advance to Director Editorial Policy and Standard and also any proposal to broadcast content made by perpetrators of a hijacking, kidnapping, hostage-taking or siege must be referred to a senior editorial figure.’’

The questions to answer therefore include: did senior people in London at the BBC fully understood that they were authorizing the recording of terrorists who are still active and who between them have been responsible for the abduction, rape and killings of thousands of people including school children?

There are other questions.

When homeland terrorists committed the inconceivable crime of hacking British soldier Lee Rigby to death in May 2013, would the BBC have considered it in the public interest to interview these terrorists? To compare apples with apples, imagine that hero Rigby’s murderers were never held for their crimes, continued butchering people and collecting seven figure ransoms., would the BBC dare to send reporters to film the murderers gloating about collecting ransom, and then hold Twitter Spaces and bask in views, clicks and likes?
The answer is NO. The BBC would never dare.

Why then is the BBC okay to fund, then publicise the glorification of practicing murderers still butchering hundreds across Nigeria and the Chad Basin? How did this three-year disregard for African lives come about, and why is this acceptable?

By their own admission, the BBC Africa Eye producers claim their reporting occurred over three-years. This is clearly well before the crime against the school girls in Jangebe occurred. These bandits and their factions commit cross-border crimes. Therefore, as a matter of urgent national and regional security, other questions which the BBC must answer publicly, in the actual interest of the public include:

1. In all these years it was conducting these ‘investigations’ of terrorists, did the BBC harbour information on potential criminal or or actual crimes they happened an did the BBC withhold this information from the relevant African security authorities?

2. After the particular interviews in which the murderers admit their collection of ransoms, and committing acts of kidnap, did the BBC hand over any of this footage to the authorities, and do so in a timely manner?

3. What footage and information has the BBC handed over to law enforcement, since the publication of this documentary?

In covering a subset of criminals for three years, the BBC has brazenly admitted that it was shooting criminals before, during and after the commission of dastardly crimes that have destroyed generations present and unborn.

The BBC Africa Eye documentaries series have been designed specifically for release on social media platforms (Facebook and YouTube). Given the programme’s track record of dubious editorial decisions and accusations of unethical behaviour including by local reporters who worked with them, BBC managers in London should also explain if the decision to put this documentary out on social media was designed to ensure its producers are not held to the high global broadcast standards the BBC is known for and which are applicable to content broadcast within the UK?

When BBC Africa Eye did a story on drug addiction in Nigeria, there were attempts by a producer to sensationalize some of the reporting, to make it more gripping. On that occasion, he was working with a seasoned and brave journalist who pushed back.

When they did a story on Sex for Grades, the two reporters responsible for the story ended up trading blame on social media over sex for by-line allegations. Again, the producers didn’t come out smelling of roses.

An investigative report by them on a popular talk show host in Nigeria who is revered by millions saw the journalist who did that reporting flee his home together with his family as a result of threats to his life. The BBC failed in its duty of care to this local journalist and in the end fellow journalists had to rally around to provide him with safe spaces.

In all, the team at BBC Africa Eye appear to be striving to do reporting that would be unacceptable in the UK for being unethical and transparently against public interest.

The problem is they have capitalised on the justified anger of the people and the inconceivable failure of the government, to once again resurrect the ugliest vestiges of colonialism, which one had hoped were long buried.

The unfolding anarchy and violence in Nigeria are serious matters, and every attempt must be made to keep the public informed. A documentary that investigates and examines government failures while centring victims and their families would have done that.

Giving boastful, bloodthirsty criminals a global platform serves only two purposes. It provides free publicity for terror and enables the BBC to push viewership figures on social media.

It does nothing for public service. Even if it does not realise it, the BBC’s reputation for stellar public service journalism is being damaged.

Black lives, their humanity and national security, should matter more than clicks.

Hopefully someone in London will take note.

Kadaria Ahmed was a Senior Producer at the BBC in London and is now CEO at Radio Now 95.3FM Lagos


Nigeria Independence And The Boldness Of Buhari To Blow The Trumpet



President Muhammad Buhari


By Bala Ibrahim.

It was late Sir Ahmadu Bello, the Sardauna of Sakkwato, the former Premier of northern Nigeria, and the supreme political leader of the region that said, “You should blow your trumpet, because if you don’t, no one is going to blow it for you, as everyone is busy blowing his own”. Undoubtedly, the ambition of the Sardauna statement is to encourage people to tell their own success stories, particularly people that are vested with responsibilities. But for some people, perhaps because of modesty, or that behaviour of being relatively moderate, they don’t subscribe to the idea of blowing their trumpet. To do that they argue, is like being boastful about one’s achievements. Until recently, one of the people with such belief is Gen.Muhammadu Buhari rtd, and now President Muhammadu Buhari, PMB.

In the days when I was a reporter with the BBC, and prior to his transformation from a soldier to a politician, I was a regular visitor to him in Kaduna. Time without number, we had discussions on the sacrifices he made as a soldier, and the successes he recorded as a Governor, Minister and Head of state. Every time he mentions them, my instinct as a journalist, was to spur him to talk on the radio. I would say sir, why don’t you narrate these to me on the microphone. And his response was always NO. He would blushingly decline to speak by way of a formal interview, because according to him, some may think you are exaggerating your sense of importance, or your abilities for accomplishment.

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After countless abortive attempts, in one instance, I sought and succeeded in getting a note from him, to travel to Ilorin, and speak to his deputy at the Supreme Military Council then, late Gen.Tunde Idiagbon rtd. Lo and behold, I met him, but the situation wasn’t any different. In fact, Gen.Idiagbon issued me a threat, that if I insist on him blowing his trumpet, he would instruct for my immediate arrest, regardless of the introduction letter from his boss. I said take it easy sir, my intention is honourable. Like his boss, talking about your achievements, is akin to exaggerating your sense of importance, or your abilities for accomplishment.

But I am particularly happy with today, because, years after the death of Gen. Tunde Idiagbon, and on the occasion of the celebration of the 2022 Independence anniversary of Nigeria, President Muhammadu Buhari has reversed his position on the issue of the blowing of the trumpet.

In an address to the nation this morning, PMB took time to score himself high, alongside his political party, the All Progressives Congress, APC, because as he said, in addition to the many achievements of his administration, and pursuant to the effective public financial management system put in place by his government, Nigeria succeeded in exiting two economic recessions. Sure, this was achieved because of the very practical and realistic monetary and fiscal measures employed by the government.

Not only had his administration given the desired priority to the agricultural sector through a series of incentives to micro, small and medium-scale enterprises that resulted in creating millions of jobs, as he mentioned, PMB was quick to blow his trumpet more, thus:

“Leading this initiative, the Central Bank of Nigeria’s intervention in a number of areas as well as the Anchor Borrowers Programme had created the required leverages for Nigerians towards self-sufficiency in food and the necessary attraction for farming as a business”.

After a detailed examination of some of the challenges facing the country, and the efforts of the Government at addressing them, including the thorny issue of the strike of the University lecturers, PMB returned his mouth to the trumpet, thus:

“In the past few years, we have witnessed and overcome a good number of challenges that would ordinarily have destroyed our nation. However, the indefatigable spirit of the Nigerian people has ensured that we overcome our challenges. It is in this spirit that I call on all of us to individually and collectively bring to the fore in dealing with all our development issues. I was called to serve, along with my team, I saw an opportunity to create a better Nigeria which we have done with the support of Nigerians. Almighty God and the good people of Nigeria supported us in laying a solid foundation for the Nigeria of our dreams.”

As a spin doctor, who is interested in projecting favourable interpretations of the activities of the government and the party in power, especially in the media, by this boldness, to blow the trumpet of his achievements, PMB had simply given me the best of the gifts that any President can give his people at a trying time like now.

Yes, although this is his last independence anniversary speech as an elected President, the speech would help in correcting some of the distortions, and the negative perceptions about his performance.

Hip Hip Hip! Hurrah Nigeria at 62. And Hurrah PMB, for changing your stance, on the issue of the blowing of the trumpet.

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APC : The Time To Tame The Fanning Out Of Fake News



Senator Abdullahi Adamu,APC National Chairman


By Bala Ibrahim.

For the best part of last night, and the early part of this morning, my phones were ringing non stop, and virtually all the calls were coming with questions for clarification. As one heading the bureaucratic arm in charge of media management of the party in power, where important decisions taken by the elected representatives of the party are passed to you to process, for onwards transmission to the public, as directed, such calls can come under the classification of the normal call of duty. But not when they emanate out of the intent to install in the media, an insolent and impudent information, by the friends of fake news. Yes, the friends of fake news.

I did my best addressing the media last night, mostly my colleagues in the Hausa service of the electronic media, but by the morning time, the queries have skyrocketed to something like a quiz of scepticism. Everyone is asking, some with doubts, about a letter sighted by the media, to the effect that the National Working Committee, NWC, of the ruling All Progressive Congress, APC, under the leadership of Sen. Abdullahi Adamu, as the chairman, had written, in an unpleasant language, to the Presidential candidate of the party, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu. As expected, in the eagerness to be the first to break news, some of my colleagues were quick to release the story, some, with nasty captions.

One of the moderate caption reads thus, APC Campaign Council List: Adamu Accuses Tinubu Of Side-lining NWC. It went on to say, “The chairman of the All Progressives Congress, APC, Abdullahi Adamu has accused the party’s presidential candidate Bola Tinubu of appointing members of the Presidential Campaign Council without the approval of APC National Working Committee. Tinubu had on Friday unveiled a 422-man committee comprising political heavyweights and other notable members of the party to pilot the various sub-committees of the campaign council. However, days after releasing the list, Tinubu’s campaign council postponed its inauguration to accommodate other interests and stakeholders within the party”.

Some media houses went as far as releasing the purported nasty letter, which by implication means, the party has arrived at the junction of the rumoured rift, and the anticipated rupture.

A paragraph from the said wordings of the chairman reads, “It is against this background that the NWC received with astonishment and regret, the press release by the PCC on 23rd September, 2022, in which a purported list of appointees was announced, which effectively served as the approved roster of participants in the Party’s Presidential Campaign Council. The purported list not only came as a complete surprise to the NWC and the Party’s leadership, but also contravened the principles and purposes of the arrangements that you and I had led towards the adoption of the Organogram of the PCC, and its principal officials”- Sen. Abdullahi Adamu.

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My first quarrel is not with the content of the letter, but it’s qualification for authenticity, which ought to lie on the genuineness of the signature on it. And that gave way to my second, and most painful quarrel, because the letter in circulation, has not even been signed by anyone. It is a draft.

The last time I checked the dictionary, on the meaning of draft, it said, a preliminary version of a piece of writing. And my English teacher used to say, preliminary is the beginning, not the tentative, or fixed. It can change. Which means, even if there was the intention to fight, if there is a change of mind, the intention to fight can not be published as a fight.

No sooner than these agents of fake news had finished their work, than a release came from the Party, duly signed by the National Publicity Secretary, Bar. Felix Morka, viz:


“Our attention has been drawn to a “DRAFT” letter in circulation purportedly written by His Excellency, Senator Abdullahi Adamu, the National Chairman of our great Party, addressed to His Excellency, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the Presidential Candidate of our great Party, expressing dissatisfaction over the recently released list of the Presidential Campaign Council (PCC). To be clear, the “DRAFT” letter did not emanate from the Party. An UNSIGNED letter that marks itself as a ‘DRAFT’ cannot and should not be attributed to its purported author. The National Chairman of our Party and our Presidential Candidate maintain cordial and effective communication channels, and enjoy full liberty of open and frank conversations on matters of interest to the Party and our Presidential Campaign. As such, an unsigned “DRAFT” letter of the kind in circulation is patently unnecessary and of no qualitative value to engagement between the Party and the PCC. We will not be distracted by the wishes and actions of detractors that wait gleefully but in vain for some kind of crisis to erupt between the Party and the PCC. We stand united, as a Party, in our resolve and commitment to execute a focused and issue-driven campaign to persuade Nigerians to renew our mandate in next year’s general election”.

As if acting with the instinct of a premonition, at the occasion of the signing of a peace accord today, which had in attendance virtually all the Presidential candidates for the 2023 elections, alongside their party chairmen or representatives, the chairman of the National Peace Committee and former Head of state, Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar, took time to address the issue of fake news, saying unlike in previous elections, where thuggery and violence were the major threats, in 2023, fake news is the major challenge. He said and I quote, “According to the latest fake news, the name of the winner of the Presidential election of 2023 has already been released, long before the ballots are cast”.

In my elementary days of training on Basic Journalism, one phrase that was repeatedly used, and made to resonate like a religious verse was, DONT BE THE FIRST TO GET IT WRONG.

My colleagues and I can do justice to the mission of the National peace committee, by refusing to be amongst the first to get it wrong, through the taming of the fanning out of fake news. And the best time to do it, is NOW.

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What You Need To Know About Professor Iya Abubakar



Professor Iya Abubakar


Sadiq Mohammed Mubi

Prof. Iya Abubakar, is from Adamawa state of Northeastern Nigeria, the first-rated Mathematician Of Africa who  became Professor Of Mathematics at the Age Of 28.

Iya Abubakar had his first class in mathematics at London University (University College Ibadan) in the ’50s,  and completed a Doctorate Degree at Cambridge University, England in the 60s.

Professor Iya Abubakar was the only Nigerian appointed as a Professor in the Department of Mathematics, ABU Zaria, at the age of 28 in 1963.

A first class graduate of Mathematics at the University of Ibadan, he is the first Northerner to earn a PhD in any field when he earned it at the University of Cambridge.

He became Head of Department, Mathematics and Computer Science, ABU Zaria, at the age of 32 (a record in the Nigerian University system).

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Second indigenous Vice Chancellor of ABU Zaria, at the age of 40 and retired from academics at the age of 44.

His academic productivity suffered a lot when he became Vice Chancellor (President) of the University.

Biography and Academic Carrier

Iya Abubakar was born on 14 December 1934 at Boloko, Belel District, Maiha Local Government Area of Adamawa state. He attended Barewa College Zaria, University College Ibadan (later  became the University of Ibadan) and earned a PhD at the University of Cambridge in England.

He worked as a visiting Professor at the University of Michigan in 1965 – 1966, before being appointed as Professor of Mathematics at Ahmadu Bello University Zaria at the age of 28, in 1967.

He held this position until 1975, as well as a visiting professorship at the City University of New York from 1971-72. In 1975, he was appointed the Vice-Chancellor of Ahmadu Bello University  Zaria, a position he held until 1978.

Prof. Iya Abubakar is exceptionally gifted, genius, talented, an industry of knowledge, the best of the best  and second to none.

Prof. Iya Abubakar is no doubt one of the finest brains to have come out of the North, whose legacies in academia are worth celebrating.

The people of “SABONDALE” comprised of Madagali, Michika, Mubi North/  South and Maiha Local Government Areas are indeed proud of their son ( Iya Abubakar) who is an elder statesman.

Youth of the 21st century may find it difficult to refill the vacuum created by GOD’s wishes, when death comes, only GOD knows.    “Allah ya bashi lafiya da  cikawa da imani”.  “Esteemed is better than silver or gold”.

Prof. Iya Abubakar was a director of the Central Bank of Nigeria from 1972 to 1975.

Later career

After the regime of Lt-Gen. Olusegun Obasanjo handed power back to an elected Government in 1979, Iya Abubakar was appointed as the Federal Minister of Defence, holding this office until 1982. From 1993 – 2005, he was the Pro-Chancellor and Chairman of Council of the

University of Ibadan.

In the late 1990s, he served as the Director of  National Mathematical Centre at Abuja, and chaired both the National Manpower Commission of Nigeria and the non-governmental Africa International Foundation for Science and Technology.

Iya Abubakar was elected Senator for the Adamawa North constituency of Adamawa State, Nigeria at the start of the Nigerian Fourth Republic, running on the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) platform.

He took office on 29 May 1999.

He was re-elected in April 2003. After taking his seat in the Senate in June 1999 – 2007. He was appointed to committees on Public Accounts, Banking & Currency (chairman), Commerce and Finance & Appropriation.

Iya Abubakar has also chaired the Senate Committee on Finance and Appropriation [6] and the Senate Committee on Science and Technology.

Prof. Iya Abubakar, holds a traditional title in Mubi Emirate Council, Adamawa state, as the Galadima of Mubi.

The great Professor, has since retired from active participation in public office and is now living a quiet private life

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