As reactions continue to trail the recent face-off between the Nigerian Army and the management of Daily Trust Newspapers over a report published by the former, no fewer than 25 civil society groups have called on the media outfit to apologise to the military.
Daily Trust had recently published a report with the headline ‘Military prepares massive operation to retake Baga’, Borno State from Boko Haram, a story, which did not go down well with the military authenticities.
Speaking on the development, a coalition of 25 CSOs demanded for immediate apology from the media house over the damaging report.
Comrade Abdul Usman, spoke on behalf of the group at a press conference on Thursday, he faulted Daily Trust editorial for falling short of every standard expected of a national paper.
According to Abubakar, the failure of Daily Trust to retract the story and editorial, sends a wrong signal to the world that it has moved from being a newspaper that is moderately Islamic in outlook to one that has embraced full blown Islamic extremism to the point of supporting terrorism.
His words, “In the wake of the visit of soldiers to Daily Trust’s offices, most of us did not hesitate to express our reservation at the development, believing that the courts could have been used to issue warrants for the arrest and prosecution of those found to have breached the anti-terrorism laws of Nigeria.
“This would have allowed anyone so indicted to have their day in court and to receive the appropriate punishments prescribed in the legislation. The decision of invite the reporters and editor, while legitimately part of an investigation into how classified information was leaked, has now been turned around to lay accusation of clampdown on free speech against the military.
“It has become a merry-go-round where attention seeking and mischief-plying international organisations to engage in hysterical military bashing that fits into a long running agenda to leave Nigeria unable to fight terrorists.
“We therefore fault those foreign agencies, influencers and their lackeys that rushed to condemn the action of the military without acknowledging that the infraction of the newspaper would not have been tolerated in their own countries. In fact, no news organization would dare that in any country since the patriotic response from its audience will automatically lead to its demise. These same foreigners and organizations would have immediately distanced themselves from such newspaper and channelled their money elsewhere to consequently kill off the newspaper, which is way worse than the offending staff of the publication being invited to explain why they published classified information for the benefit of terrorists.
“The euphoria of joining the bandwagon to criticize the Nigerian Army is now over so we should have the benefit of reviewing what has happened based on facts and logic. Two things stand out from such sober exercise. The first is that we are unable to find any other precedence anywhere else in the world where a newspaper that brands itself as a national or regional publication writes a stories that is clearly to the benefit of terrorists. If a publication will perform such function for terrorists then it would be the official mouthpiece of the terrorist organization. Daily Trust has not announced that it has become to Boko Haram what Dabiq and Rumiyah are to the Islamic state, both are magazines for the terrorist group.
“The second point that stands out is that the particular news publication is not the first offensive or pro-Boko Haram article from the stables of Daily Trust. An editorial that accompanied the story was captioned “FG is Running Out of Excuses”. The editorial reproduced some of the contents of the story that leaked military secrets and also infused some lines from an alleged ‘special report’ by discredited writer, Ahmad Salkida, a known Boko Haram propagandist.
“The editorial and news story, taken together present a confused thinking. On one hand, the newspaper was accusing the Federal Government and by implication the Nigerian military of not doing enough to eradicate Boko Haram. But the same newspaper sabotaged an operation that was meant to unleash the might of the Nigerian state on the terrorists. It is interesting that the editorial acknowledged and praised the efforts of the Nigerien military that recently killed more than 200 terrorists but till date neglected the terrorists killed by the Nigerian military, not even the ones killed after the publication of its mischievous report.
“On this note, we renewed the demand that Daily Trust retract the damaging story if only for the symbolic value. Without prejudice to whatever talks or discussions it is currently having with the Nigerian Army as directed by the Presidency, the newspaper must also within the next seven days apologise to the military and Nigerians.
“Much as we recognize that the media is powerful, the extent of that power is to the extent that the particular media organization is law abiding and respects the feelings and safety of citizens. We shall therefore not hesitate to declare a bouquet of citizens’ actions against Daily Trust where it chooses to remain recalcitrant.
The first phase of the citizens’ actions will include but not limited to:
“Boycotting and canvassing for other Nigerians to boycott all the products of Daily Trust’s parent company, including all its offline titles and online content.
“A commitment to boycott the products and services of companies and organizations that continue to place advertisements with Daily Trust. Such companies will be labelled as sponsors of terrorism.
“Petitioning government ministries, departments and agencies as well as state governments to stop spending tax payers’ money on placing messages with Daily Trust.
“Mobilize the electorates to vote against any politician that places campaign messages in Daily Trust and its sister publications.”