The International Press Centre has described as reckless and embarrassing, the recent comment of Islamic cleric, Sheikh Ahmad Gumi, that journalists are criminals.
Executive Director, IPC, Lanre Arogundade, said, in view of a failure of leadership, an attempt was being made to blackmail the media to make it look like “the media is ab initio the creator of the crisis or series of crises we have in the country.”
Speaking on Arise TV’s Morning Show on Monday, Arogundade noted that Gumi had set a dangerous precedent and therefore demanded a retraction.
The Islamic scholar had said journalists were also criminals for fuelling the crisis and referring to bandits as criminals.
“You are emphasising on criminality, I don’t know. Even the Press are criminals too because they are putting oil in the fire. These people are listening to you; don’t address them as criminals if you want them to succumb,” Gumi had said.
Reacting, Arogundade said, “We might raise questions about our reporting, but to make it look as if the media sat somewhere and created all these would be something that is totally out of place.
“This media bashing must stop
The media didn’t create this crisis. Instead of solving these problems, all we have are statements from elected leaders of the country that are capable of further inflaming the situation.”
He added, One needs to totally condemn the statement of Sheikh Gumi saying journalists are criminals. I think he needs to re-substantiate this; he needs to be taken to chart over this reckless statement. It is a dangerous precedent, and a bad one, and we demand a retraction.”
The ED however noted that it was unimaginable for anyone to say bandits should not be referred to as criminals.
“This is an attempt to change the narrative,” he said.
Gumi has, in the last few weeks, portrayed himself as a spokesperson for bandits in the country, especially in the wake of the worsening insecurity situation.
He had, on several occasions, asked for amnesty for them, defending their actions in some cases.
This has drawn criticisms from Nigerians, at home and abroad, with many calling for the Islamic scholar’s arrest