The Nigeria Union of Journalists, NUJ, has expressed reservation on the remarks made on Arise TV last Wednesday by Sheikh Ahmad Abubakar Mahmud Gumi, labelling Journalists as criminals for calling bandits criminals.
The NUJ National President, Chris Isiguzo, said, “We do not see any correlation between journalism and criminality.”
The statement said, “This unnecessary and unprovoked attack on members of the media by a hitherto respected cleric who decided to embark on strange errands, is unacceptable and it is becoming clearer now that he is pursuing a different agenda. We equally recall a recent statement credited to Sheik Gumi where he was inciting bandits, by encouraging religious biases among soldiers on the battlefield.”
The NUJ expressed shock that the same Sheik Gumi who has used the media to speak to leaders to advance his course, is at the same time attacking the Journalists for simply describing bandits as criminals.
It explained that Sheik Gumi’s attempts to seek amnesty for killers and abductors of innocent citizens, especially school children is most unfortunate.
“We invite Sheik Gumi to explain to Nigerians why despite his recent negotiations with bandits in Zamfara State, the criminals have continued maiming, killing, raping and kidnapping innocent citizens, including the 300 female Students just abducted in the same State,” the union said.
The union suggested that Sheikh Gumi, a non-state actor involved in negotiations with criminal elements, should have been behind bars, adding that thanks to the weaknesses of our leaders, he continues with his reckless comments and forays into bandit territory unabated.
It explained that by insulting the Press as “Criminals” Sheikh Gumi has exposed himself the more as an intolerant person who would not want his activities closely scrutinised by the media.
“It is instructive to remind Sheik Gumi that by embarking on such an errand and choosing to speak for the bandits, the Press will continue to scrutinise his activities and also hold him accountable for his actions as enshrined in the Constitution,” it added.
The union noted that Sheikh Gumi’s reaction was totally unacceptable, dishonourable and reprehensible and we demand a retraction of his untoward, irritating and awkward utterances which negate simple decorum and civility, and cautioned him to remember that “riding the tiger might be an exhilarating experience but the consequence is bound to be unpleasant.”
The union also invited the global community to document the utterances and actions of Sheik Gumi and to hold him to account for any bandit related mishap that may happen to Journalists around the country.