ABUJA (Sundiata Post) – Human rights group,
the International Society for Civil Liberties and the Rule of Law (Intersociety), has debunked the claim by the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) that it is fake news that is fueling mass killings in Nigeria.
In a statement sent to Sundiata Post on Saturday, the group said the BBC report only few cases of use by social media activists of incident photos of violence not linked to killings but failed to “provide unassailable statistics showing high incidence of reprisal attacks by the victims’ communities against their attackers (Fulani Jihadists) and proportionate casualty figures from the killers and retaliators; or clear evidence of instances where the victim rural Christian communities originally initiated the killings; so as to truly give the killings the colour of ‘herders-farmers clashes’”.
The full statement reads:
The report on 29th June 2018 by the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) to the effect that “fake news fuel “herders-farmers clashes” (terror Fulani violence against Nigeria’s rural Christian farmers, their lands, houses and churches) in Nigeria; upon which the Federal Government of Nigeria’s Minister of Information recently launched what he calls “national campaign against fake news and hate speeches”; is statistically false and untrue report. See the following link for full details of the BBC report: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-44655148.
The BBC report only cited few cases of use, especially by social media activists, of incident photos of violence not connected or linked to Nigerian killings (i.e. killing of rural Christian farmers or rival Muslim killings in Zamfara State in connection with cattle theft and farmland related violence in the State), but failed woefully to provide unassailable statistics showing high incidence of reprisal attacks by the victims’ communities against their attackers (Fulani Jihadists) and proportionate casualty figures from the killers and retaliators; or clear evidence of instances where the victim rural Christian communities originally initiated the killings; so as to truly give the killings the colour of “herders-farmers clashes”.
The BBC report also failed to provide its global readers and listeners including the Nigerian Government with concrete evidence showing the faith representation of the victims of terror Fulani Jihadists attacks such as: the number of northern Muslim rural farmers and their Mosques killed and destroyed or burnt by aggressor Fulani Jihadists under the colour of Fulani Herdsmen. Failure of the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) to furnish its global readers and listeners with such concrete facts totally makes its referenced report blatantly false and untrue.
In the research and investigative findings of various local and international research and investigative organizations including US Committee on Foreign Relations, Amnesty Int’l, Christian Solidarity Worldwide and Open Doors Int’l, which we evaluated recently, the killings in Nigeria are not only solely carried out by armed Muslim militant groups, but also rural Christians, their lands and churches are the sole target of the Fulani Jihadist violent attacks. In all the killings perpetrated by Fulani Jihadists using the colour of Fulani Herdsmen, there was no single report of Muslim farmers killed and their Mosques destroyed or burnt, yet there are millions of Muslim farmers in the North with thousands of Mosques around them. The killings in Zamfara State are purely Muslim-Muslim affair especially when the State is mostly Muslims.
Therefore, merely citing the use of “incident photos not linked to a particular incident being reported” as basis to draw a general reportorial conclusion that “fake news fuel killings in Nigeria” is totally shocking and unbecoming of “BBC news reports”. This is more so when it does not require a rocket science to determine the sources, dates and locations of video clips or photos used in a particular incident report. It is a common knowledge that ICT devices or applications abound electronically or online to determine their authenticity. Besides, there are hundreds of photos and video clips circulating online and originally linked to recent anti Christian killings particularly in Benue State.
It is also found that Nigerian Government and its security agencies’ censorship and alleged evidence erasure policy have forced some citizens especially social media activists to use or share photos of other incidents to convey their messages of sadness over the untamed religious massacre in northern Nigeria. This is more so when relatives and communities and faith associates of the slain victims of anti Christian butchery as well as independent media are not allowed to profile and bury their dead. A clear case in point was in Plateau State where no fewer than 238 rural Christians killed on 23rd and 24th June 2018 by Jihadist Fulani Brigades were not allowed to be profiled and given befitting burial by their families and faith associates.
The Government of Nigeria is also reported to have gone as far as using threats and physically force and censorship to discourage independent reports of the killings while reportedly encouraging the same media to increase similar reports of Muslim-Muslim killings in Zamfara State to create international image impression that “killings are not anti Christians and that Muslims are also killed”. Actual casualty figures of those killed are rarely reported or wantonly mangled following pressures from above. In some cases, such killings go unreported and unrecorded.
There are no concrete or statistical evidence, till date, provided by the BBC or Government of Nigeria showing how “fake news” has escalated the killings in northern Nigeria especially in old Middle Belt where thousands of rural Christians, their lands, churches and homes are killed and destroyed yearly. Reprisals by the victims’ communities are near-totally absence, as recently reported by the Christian Solidarity Worldwide, “out of seven (five in the north and two in the south) reprisals by the victims’ communities since January, only 61 attackers (Fulani Herdsmen) were killed”; out of thousands of rural Christians killed.
Finally, though use of fake news and fake photos and video clips in particular incident report is strongly condemned, but the United Kingdom, where the BBC operates and owes allegiance to its Government, is also guilty of fake news. As a matter of fact, fake news generates millions of pounds into its national economy. A clear case in point in the same country is the legitimized “rumour sporting culture” in its football players’ transfer window or market season where fake news associated with same is allowed and used to rake in millions of pounds into the UK economy. Sporting fake news with a false title such as “Cristiana Ronaldo set to play for Manchester United this season” not only generates high reading traffic but also increases sales of newspapers or internet subscription in UK.
Emeka Umeagbalasi, Board Chairman
Int’l Society for Civil Liberties & the Rule of Law
Ndidiamaka Chinaza Bernard, Esq.
Head, Int’l Human Rights & Justice Programme