The Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) has condemned the remarks made by Sheikh Ahmed Gumi on Arise Television, where he alleged that Journalists were criminals for calling bandits criminals.
Mr Chris Isiguzo, the National President of NUJ in a statement on Friday in Abuja signed by the Assistant National Secretary, Mr Joseph Midat said there was no any correlation between journalism and criminality.
The statement reads in parts, “Specifically, Sheik Gumi said “you are emphasising on criminality, I don’t know. Even the Press (journalists) are criminals too because they are putting oil into fire [sic].“
“This unnecessary and provoked attack on members of the media by a hitherto respected cleric who decided to embark on strange errands, is unacceptable.
“It is becoming clearer now that he is pursuing a different agenda. We equally recall a recent statement credited to Gumi where he was inciting bandits, by encouraging religious biases among soldiers on the battlefield.
“This same Gumi who has used the media to speak to leaders to advance the course of his mission to the bandits across the Northwest, is at the same time attacking the Journalists for simply describing bandits as criminals,” Isiguzo said.
The NUJ President explained that, Gumi’s attempts to seek amnesty for killers and abductors of innocent citizens, especially school children is most unfortunate.
“We invite him to explain to Nigerians why despite his recent negotiations with bandits in Zamfara, the criminals have continued maiming, killing, raping and kidnapping innocent citizens, including the 300 female Students just abducted in the same State.
Isiguzo stressed that in other saner climes, Gumi, a non-state actor involved in negotiations with criminal elements, should have been behind bars.
He emphasised that by insulting the Press as “Criminals”, Gumi has exposed himself as an intolerant person who would not want his activities closely scrutinised by the media.
According to Isiguzo, it is instructive to remind 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.
“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.
*We therefore caution him to remember that “riding the tiger might be an exhilarating experience but the consequence are bound to be unpleasant.” He should thus be guided.
“We equally invite the global community to document the utterances and actions of Gumi and to hold him to account for any bandit related mishap that may happen to Journalists around the country,” Isiguzo stressed.