A northern Nigeria newspaper, Desert Herald which engages itself in brown envelope journalism since its inception, has again been accused of complicity in it’s reportage on security.

The accusation was contained in a public opinion survey conducted by the Sahelian online in some northern Nigerian states, following some of it’s publications on security containing reports that contradicted each other, casting doubt on the reliability and objectivity of it’s journalism practice.

According to the survey, the paper, rather than helping in telling the truth on security challenges bedevelling the northern states and the efforts being made by governments and governors of various communities in dealing with the situation, the newspaper ended up in causing confusion amongst its readers, by saying one thing today and saying another tomorrow, contradicting itself.

Some of the people who spoke to this medium expressed their opinion in the way and manner the newspaper has been complicit in reporting issues, without recourse the code of ethics of the journalism profession.

In such contradictory reports, the paper assessed and commended Governor Bello Matawallen Maradun of Zamafara state for a job well done in tackling security challenges in the state.

The paper whose proprietor visited Zamfara state along with Sheik Gummi early this year, made its publication known to the world, urging all other northern governors to emulate Zamfara governor for the peace initiatives he introduced when he assumed power two years ago . However, according to our investigations, after failing to secure the second dose of the brown envelop, the paper now accuses the governor and his government of not doing anything to curtail the security challenges in the state.
“The team agreed that military solution alone cannot end the campaign of terror, killings and kidnapings by the bandits, and that the military approach did not stop the incessant killings and abductions particularly in Zamfara, Niger and Kaduna States.”
The paper was not ashamed of openly giving out inaccurate information to its highly respected and dignified readers. According to the report by the weekly newspaper, “It will be recalled that over 200 people were killed in the last one month alone in Zamfara State because of Governor Bello Matawalle’s inability to fulfill earlier commitments and his subsequent withdrawal from the peace treaty that was brokered by Sheikh Gumi with the bandits and his resolved to disengaged from the dialogue that hitherto save so many lives while economic activities including farming had then resumed.”

The Special Adviser to Governor Bello Matawalle however responded to these blind folded allegations against the governor and his government.

According to him, “…..the report, obviously drafted to promote the drive by Sheikh Dr Gummi in his bid to add value to the fight against the menace of banditry, fell short of objectivity as it uncunningly singled out and accused the Zamfara State Governor, Dr Bello Mohammed (Matawallen Maradun, Shattiman Sakkwato) over the recent escalation of banditry attack in his state.

” Surprisingly, the accusation by Desert Herald unwittingly centered on the Governor’s own baby, which is the peace process, an initiative by Governor Matawalle which Gummi himself, publicly and openly commended the Governor for implementing. But the report falsely accused Governor Matawalle of abandoning his baby which it said culminated in the recent escalation of attacks in some communities in the state. It also accused the Governor of failure to fulfill promises earlier made.

“We do not know whose bidding the medium is now doing, but the world knows that His Excellency Governor Matawalle had not abandoned his pet approach to solving the problem of banditry in the state and has at no point in time announced his withdrawal from the peace accords.

“In fact, the proprietor of Desert Herald, Tukur Mamu, was on the team of Sheikh Gummi when he visited Zamfara state, (just as he was reported to be on the same team when it visited the British High Commissioner), hence, we wonder why the medium would now report something opposite to what it witnessed.

” For the avoidance of doubt, Governor Matawalle initiated the peace process in the state against all odds and has recorded tremendous success which culminated into the peace enjoyed in the state in the last two years. He has neither abandoned the process nor intend to abandon it.

“Similarly, the administration of Governor Matawalle has been doing all that is possible to fulfill its promises contained in the peace agreement which include the building of Rugga (which is now 90% completed) the amnesty to those who surrender their weapons and abandon banditry and the provision of basic infrastructure in the rural areas.

” The recent upsurge in violence on some communities in the state is related to other variables which the Government is tackling head-on and has resulted in the suspension of two first class Emirs in the state.”

The response by the Special Adviser to the governor is a clear testimony of the complicity of the news paper, which is a clear case of not fulfilling certain demands from the governor by the newspaper.

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