The Presidency has described as wicked and unfounded conclusion by a media house that President Muhammadu Buhari is sympathetic to the activities of violent herdsmen, and has been indifferent to their atrocities. Responding to a PUNCH editorial, the senior special assistant, media to the president ,Garba Shehu said the government rejects the newspaper’s September 4th, 2018 editorial which alleged that President Buhari had sympathy for criminality perpetuated by a misguided group. According to Shehu, the editorial was not only disrespectful to the President and his office, but was also reckless, thoughtless, inflammatory and totally irresponsible.
He said it is steadily becoming clear from the views, news and opinions of the newspaper that it will explore every opportunity and twist every fact to declare every Nigerian and ECOWAS member with Fulani blood terrorists, who must be stripped of their rights as citizens, or worse subjected to ethnic cleansing. He said, “We believe and strongly insist that criminality perpetrated by some miscreants should not be used to demonize other responsible and decent members of the same ethnic group. “ The collective demonization of any ethnic group because of the misguided behaviour or conduct of criminals is improper and no responsible government will ever do so. “The Punch editorial is, therefore, sheer blackmail and mischief designed to push its own sinister and unpatriotic agenda disguised as free speech. By inciting the people against an ethnic group because of the criminal activities of a few is unhelpful and deleterious to peace”.
Rather than proffer solutions, Shehu said the editorial only regurgitated simplistic narratives of complex national issues, deliberately neglecting the broader and unbiased understanding and interpretation. After the highly biased and misleading editorial, he pointed out that the newspaper could not but come to terms with the established fact that climate change and criminality remained key drivers of the farmers-herdsmen conflict. The Presidency advises members of the media to exercise restraint and good judgement for the larger good of the society. “We must not forget the significant and unsavoury roles played by journalists in the Rwandan genocide of 1994, which claimed almost one million lives.We should all work for the good of the country and all citizens,” he stated .
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