By Rasheed Abubakar
If the Nigerian media could hurriedly flaunt such sensational headlines as: Muslim cleric arrested for…. or Islamic cleric ducked for…. crime in their front pages, what stops them from acknowledging the gruesome murder of a renowned Muslim scholar and his entire household by unknown gunmen in Ogun state?
Rather, they all deliberately removed ‘Muslim’ from their headlines to conceal the identity of Shaykh Yusuf Hamzat-Salam who was butchered alongside his wife, four children and two students of his Qur’anic school.
Out of the country’s top seven (7) newspaper headlines, only two (Daily Trust and Daily Sun) identified the victim as an “Imam” and “Islamic cleric” respectively.
The remaining five (5) – The Punch, Thisday, Vanguard, The Guardian and The Nation downplayed the identities of the respected Muslim family in their headlines.
In fact, The Punch and Tribune in their characteristic prejudiced manner captioned their headlines as: “Gunmen killed husband, wife and four children in Ogun”. The question of who copied who is an issue for another day? Lol
But, when will our media stop all this biased reporting and truly be professional? Why must we always allow sentiment and mischief to affect our morally and ethical conducts in reportage?
Our ever mischievous and prejudiced media knew too well that the victim was not just an ordinary man or husband as reported, they know too well he was a revered Muslim scholar with hundreds of followers, who have benefited immensely from his wealth of knowledge and spiritual guidance.
Interestingly, if this man had committed a crime, the propagandist editors would have painted him RED and celebrated his Islamic identify, the same way they did in the case of Yunusa-Ese saga, just to sell their filthy newspapers.
Honestly I weep for the Nigerian media. You guys are losing it already.
Nonetheless, it is heartwarming to see some other objective reports on the same story, giving a glimpse of hope that all hope is not lost after all. Of particular interest is the report from the New Telegraph. The newspaper did not only cast an appropriate headline, it also used the picture of the victim which revealed his Islamic identity, especially the beard.
That said, it is important to ensure that the story does not just end there. The media must partner the police to unravel the mystery behind the multiple killings and bring the perpetrators to book. I expect The Punch for instance to embark on a social media campaign with hashtag #JusticeForImamYusuf, the same way it passionately pursued #JusticeForEse.
By the way, where are the human rights activists? Leave politicians alone, let’s support this cause. It’s rewarding albeit, with no financial inducement or benefits.
And to the good citizens of this country, let’s be vigilant and report any suspicious movement to the police. You never can tell who is next.
“Whoever kills a person [unjustly]…it is as though he has killed all mankind. And whoever saves a life, it is as though he had saved all mankind.” (Qur’an, 5:32)
*Rasheed Abubakar, journalist and the author of “Muslims and the Threats of the Media”, wrote via social media.