The recent attacks on some communities in Benue State have now become avenues some Media Houses use in gaining and diverting traffic to sites, clearly twisting and sensationalizing news reports to the detriment of everyone.
The kind of news being churned out by news Media houses are capable of birthing crisis and tension to the already uneasy atmosphere in the Country and the Government has lamented this through the Minister of Information and Culture, but this has not persuaded some media houses.
The Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN) has become the Media soft sell. All attempts to clarify their stance and completely denounce the attacks being carried out by suspected herdsmen has been continuously used by the Media against them.
TheSun ran a story titled: “Expect more bloodshed in Benue, Bosso, Miyetti Allah leader warns”, on 13th of January by one Chioma Igbokwe.
The lead of the story read:
“Barely 48 hours after the mass burial of 73 victims of the recent herdsmen attacks in Benue, the National Vice President of Miyetti Allah Cattle Herders Association, Husaini Yusuf Bosso, has warned that more blood will be shed in the State if the anti-grazing law introduced by Governor Samuel Ortom is not completely scrapped.”
The National Vice President was explaining how the Association wrote a letter to the Governor, Samuel Ortom, telling him of an international route from Benue to Eastern Nigeria, which cattle are meant to pass, but the Governor declined.
Bosso even said the Association is not against the law, but the Governor ought to provide a land for herders, not even a route for cattle to pass to other parts of the Country.
In his words: “The law is saying that herdsmen should not pass through the state even if it’s a route to another area. In the past, if there was damage by the cattle, we had ways to settle the matter.
“When you damage a farm, you have to beg the owner, if they refuse, you pay for the damages. This has worked for us for years till Benue State decided to implement the anti-grazing law. We have challenged the law in court and till court decides which way forward, Governor Ortom will be held responsible for any further bloodshed.”
Bosso further iterated that neither the Association nor its members, are responsible for the attacks in Benue and are ready to prove their innocence.
With all these explanations TheSun still decided to title a story with a “tension soaked” headline.
DailyPost also ran a similar sensation story titled “Miyetti Allah defends killer herdsmen, says local security caused trouble”
The writer, Seun Opejobi, based his write-up on the interview of the Secretary-General of the Association, Usman Ngelzerma, with the Punch.
Ngelzerma stated that the livestock guards have turned themselves to Police and Court, imposing penalties on herdsmen, charging them with huge sum of money before releasing them.
He said before the crisis erupted, the guards went to make some arrests in a particular community and they met stiff resistance from the Fulanis because they were already tired of the persistent harassment from the guards, not the police or the DSS, army or constituted authority.
This he said, led to violence and the killings, but he noted that the Association frowns at the violence.
He neither said the members of the Association carried out the attack nor did he identify the perpetrators, yet Opejobi said he defended “Killer Herdsmen”.
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