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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.

2023 Elections: IPAC Rejects Purported Deployment of Yusuf Kolo as Kano CP

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


Emotional Farewell: Staff Bid Adieu to Departing Executive at FCTA




By Bala Ibrahim.

In Arabic, the name Najeeb means the Distinguished, the Noble or the Outstanding. The Arabic dictionary says if you’re seeking a name with inherent star power, Najeeb will make for a lovely fit. It is the masculine respelling of the Arabic favorite, Najib, which stands for the Distinguished.

Yesterday, Friday, 29/09/2023, I had reason to write on one of the 21 Chief Executives at the Federal Capital Territory Administration, FCDA, that was relieved of his duty by Minister Nyesom Wike. As of the time of writing the article, I hadn’t any inkling about his name or the company he headed. Within minutes of the release of my article, responses came in torrents, giving the name, the agency he headed, his state of origin and an addendum, spelling out his personal qualities which people admire. These include honesty, generosity, courage and selflessness. His name was given as Najeeb, Najeeb Abdulsalam, whose sojourn as the Managing Director of the Abuja Urban Mass Transit Company, AUMTC, was cut short by the Minister of the FCT, barely three months on the saddle. I was made to understand that Najeeb came from Danbatta, in my native Kano state. In short, Najeeb Abdulsalam was described by many as a man of noble character. The encomiums were so encouraging that they gave me the justification for this follow up article.

For starters, I must make it very clear that the mission of the article is not in any way meant to support Najeeb for reasons of nepotism, not at all. I wrote without even knowing his name or where he came from. I was only touched by the show of uncommon support, solidarity and the sincere sentiments from those he led, alongside the testimonials of those that know him.

His staffers’ account gave the picture of an Officer and a Gentleman, with commitment to discharging correctly, the work he was assigned. Some of the staff that served under him were even volunteering to go with him, should the Government refuse to reverse the termination of his appointment. It is not surprising, because the name Najeeb is meant to go with a certain degree of nobility. Indeed I know some Najeebs, and truly all of them are noble and outstanding. One of the testimonies I received about Najeeb Abdulsalam is thus:

“I can proudly say that I was part of the overwhelming success he recorded during his 3 months+ long tenure at the agency. A friend and a business associate of mine financed the supply of spare parts and supervised the repairs of 37 number buses of the agency. The repairs are almost concluded with about 5 more buses to go out of the Lot. I managed the whole transaction on behalf of my friend. If merit was a yardstick for appointment into public office, Najib would have received a merit award instead of having himself unceremoniously sacked from office by the HMoFCT Bar. Nyesom Wike”.

Another one says: “Individuals like this should be fished out by the leadership of Government and celebrated to serve as an encouragement for others to perform well, Najeeb is highly disciplined and upright individual that I know, being a former Local Government Chairman twice”.

If the society sees traits like integrity, honesty, courage, loyalty and fortitude as the virtues of good behavior or character, then people like Najeeb Abdulsalam should be among the cardinals of the system. Three out of the 8 point agenda of President Tinubu are, Job creation, Adherence to the rule of law and the Fight against corruption. With people like Najeeb Abdulsalam at work, I see Asiwaju’s ambition as a fait accompli.

The Abuja Urban Mass Transport Company Limited (AUMTCO), where Najeeb Abdulsalam was heading up till last week, was established by the then Ministry of Federal Capital Territory, which had a change of name to the Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) in 1984, as Abuja Bus Service (ABS). It later mutated to Abuja Urban Mass Transport Company Limited, AUMTC. The ambition is to implement an environmentally friendly and sustainable Urban public transport system in the FCT, for effective, comfortable, safe, regular, efficient and affordable transport service delivery. The company has had a sizable turnover of chief executives, who served for years at various times, but according to insiders, non came near Najeeb Abdulsalam in performance. And he was only there for three months.

On his first day in office as the Minister of the FCT, Bars. Nyesom Wike promised to restore the national capital’s master plan by cleaning up the metropolis, instilling orderliness and ensuring infrastructural reforms, which were destroyed by decades of corruption, incompetence, carelessness and impunity. If the Minister is serious about matching words with action, people like Najeeb Abdulsalam should not be removed from the saddle.

Najeeb’s antecedents have given Kano state additional magnificence, especially when put alongside the recent story of Auwalu Salisu, the 22-year-old commercial tricycle operator in Kano, who returned the sum of N15 million, forgotten by a Chadian commuter in his tricycle.

The Minister of State in the FCT, Mariya Mahmoud Bunkure is an indigene of Kano. She must rise up to the challenge, by waking up to smell the coffee. The country needs people with integrity to manage it. And in Najeeb Abdulsalam, I see a glimpse of such noble-mindedness.

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Kano State Education In 100 Days-Muazzam



Governor Abba Kabir Yusuf

Let me begin by refreshing our memory with the popular saying of the African Independence Revolutionary Nelson Mandela who said, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” This is a clear testimony that any nation which wants to progress and have an independent life must make education its priority in governance.

This important reason is what led Engr. Rabiu Musa Kwankaso’s Administration in the years 1999-2003 and 2011-2015 to introduce a primary school pupil feeding program, providing them with free uniforms, canceling school fees, introducing the payment of SSCE fees to Secondary School Students, establishing State Universities, and offering overseas scholarships to outstanding indigent students to study in different disciplines. Today, many of these students have recorded tremendous achievements and are contributing their best to the state, Nigeria, and overseas.

His Excellency Engr. Abba Kabir Yusuf promised during his campaigns that he would continue from where his Leader Engr. Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso left off. Education was made a priority in his blueprint, being the first, second, and third agenda items. This was stated by H.E Engr. Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso several times and was reiterated in the RMK 2023 Blueprint, page 3: “Education is a public good, we shall ensure, through the correct reforms and investment, that all our schools provide the appropriate quality education to our citizens…”

The first assignment of Engr. Abba Kabir on education was in primary education. He conducted a special investigation on AGILE, a program that supports girls’ child education. He selected 19 LGAs for the program and disbursed the sum of N917 million to benefit 45,850 female students. Unfortunately, this World Bank-supported project didn’t receive the required attention and results until now. One may inquire from 23/6/2023, when the program was launched until today, about how many female children are enrolled in school, especially in rural communitiesThe results would be certainly amazing.

Secondary school students in Kano State are in joyful moments after the Executive Governor of Kano State paid their NECO fees. The previous APC administration had abandoned the examination fees of 55,000 students, but they turned a deaf ear towards the end of their administration. To save the students from this quagmire, the Kano State Government ordered the release of N1 billion to ensure they were eligible for the examination. It might interest you to know that 11 boarding schools were abandoned in the past administration, and N79,284,538 million was released for their renovation and reopening during the 5th State Executive Council.

On 23/8/2023, the Executive Governor of Kano State, Engr. Abba Kabir Yusuf, approved the payment of N700 million to 7000 Kano indigent students at Bayero University, Kano. He also approved the renovation of pedestrian bridges at Bayero University, Kano, Sa’adatu Rimi University, Kano, and Aminu Kano College of Islamic and Legal Studies, Kano, which were abandoned since 2015. We have another great effort where 131 Kano indigent students have been approved to travel overseas for a Master’s Scholarship Program sponsored by the Kano State Government.

This is a clear indication that the Education Sector has been made a priority in the first 100 days under the Leadership of the NNPP in Kano State. During the past APC administration, releasing funds for the Education Sector to cater to its immediate needs was not easy. They were more inclined to demolish school structures to transform them into shops, plazas, event centers, or recreational facilities. This behavior drove donor agencies and organizations to neighboring states like Katsina and Jigawa State to fulfill their charitable gestures.

We have reason to thank the Almighty Allah for these wonderful and generous gestures. We believe and hope that the first year of H.E Abba Kabir Yusuf’s administration will bring back the lost glories in the education sector in Kano State, Northern Nigeria, and the country at large, In Shaa Allah (God willing).

Ibrahim Mu’azzam Senator SSA Public Affairs to the Kano State Governor

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In my piece of August 23rd, 2023 titled “Blackmail Against Judiciary and Threat to Kano’s Security”, I brought to the fore the position of Kano State Governor, Abba Kabir Yusuf, owing to comments on Radio made by his Broadcast Media Aide, Abdullahi tanko Galadanchi. From those comments, the Governor counted on nothing to achieve victory, other than bribing the Honourable Judges of the Tribunal. This position was further affirmed by a leaked audio attributed to a Political Mobilization Aide for Kano South, who advised the Secretary to the State Government to ensure that all funds are channelled to procuring favourable judgement, even if to the detriment of the state, he emphasised. The Secretary to the State Government also, in his speech to mark 100 days of the government in office, attributed the administration’s failure to fulfil some of its promises to paucity of funds caused by enormous expenditure related to the proceedings of the Election Petition. Summarily, the administration has in its dwarfed wisdom, stylishly legitimised efforts to procure judgement through emotional blackmail, all of these came on the back of threats to lives of Tribunal Judges, and threats of making Kano a field of cultivation of lifeless bodies through anarchy and banditry.The administration of Abba Kabir Yusuf is indeed always clever by half; I predicted the ouster of some appointees that outwardly made heated, inciting or compromising statements, however in its narrow foresight, the government sacked only two out of numerous appointees that danced to an obviously authorised drum and song. We saw the Secretary to the State Government on video, accompanied by some Commissioners, threatening fire and brimstone, saying unambiguously in Hausa that “duk wanda ya taba mana zabe a Kano, sai dai uwarsa ta haifi wani”. This is the worst form of debasement that government has ever been brought to in the history of Kano State. The most senior appointed official of government threatening lives of Honourable Judges is indeed worrisome to every sane mind. Of course, tens of appointees followed suit thereafter, expressing intentions to wreck unprecedented havoc in the event of an unfavourable judgement, one after the other, we listened as they clawed at imaginary straws and have continued to sank even lower into abyss. In the case of self-acclaimed rufflers of feathers, Kperoogi and Naja’atu, it is funny that they missed the threats to lives of Honourable Judges and did not pay attention to government officials threats to make Kano worse than a banditry-torn Zamfara and Katsina; rather they only found their sense and logic in seeking a court to defend the indefensible and become father Christmas by granting Abba and NNPP that which they did not ask of the Court. Their illogical logic did not cause them to realise that APC in its petition raised numerous issues around non-compliance, and the NNPP even after its poor defence (due mainly to its complicity in the matter), failed to file any counter against the APC to cause us to have to defend the lawfulness of our votes. Yet, Kperoogi and Naja’atu believe that the court should have fed Abba & NNPP in their mouths, since Kwankwaso has made that a birth-right of theirs. In her comments, Naja’atu also exclaimed that if elections were to hold in Kano today, Abba would win by a landslide; this same woman not too long ago said the same of Atiku Abubakar, and we all recall how badly he was trounced in her home state of Kano.One would imagine that Kwankwaso, Abba & NNPP would have learnt a lesson or two from the irreparable damage the recent loss in court has caused them. Unfortunately, Abba through his mouthpiece, Bature, has come out to claim that the Honourable Judges might have been made to give judgement under duress. This speaks volumes of the failure of the Abba administration to see what is placed right before them, right in front of their noses. The Honourable Judges in their submissions have outrightly made clear the reasons why they chose to pronounce judgement via zoom, and it is the fault of none but those who demonstrated an uncultured, recalcitrant and violent tendency by threatening lives of judges and peace of the entire state, in the event of a loss. Let me do Abba and Bature a favour of asking them to read page 226 of the judgement, and frankly undertake an introspection exercise before engaging the public on such a matter again. Since I know you both may still be in slow recovery from the reality check dished by the Tribunal, I will assist you with some of the painfully piercing lines; “I use this opportunity to condemn the gang of Red Cap wearers… I am in no doubt that the security Agencies know and are aware of those who removed their eyes from their case and put it on the Judiciary. They are also aware of those who extended the threat further by declaring that THEY WILL KILL THE JUDGES. THIS THREAT MUST NOT BE SWEPT UNDE

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