Osun State Governor, Rauf Aregbesola and His Eminence, Sultan of Sokoto, Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar have urged media in Nigeria to shun fake news and only report factual and balanced stories.
While the monarch claimed that Nigeria media has been unfair to Islam, the Governor corroborated this claim saying Muslims have been unfair victims of media bias in the country.
They both made this known at the inauguration of Board of Trustees, BoT, Muslim Media Watch Group of Nigeria, held at the banquet hall, government house, Osogbo, at the weekend.
Aregbesola described the allegation that he planned to Islamize Osun state and secede from Nigeria as falsehood that has not been backed by any fact.
Represented by the Grand Mufty, Osogbo land, Sheik Maruf Ishola, Aregbesola, a Special Guest of Honour at the event warned against fake news that may trigger civil war.
He said, “In our own country, fake news, hate messages and subtle (and not so subtle) incitements along ethnic and religious lines by the media carry the grave portents of triggering a catastrophic civil war from which we may never recover.
“Without investigating and publishing only confirmed truth, journalism is nothing more than a rumour mill. We must be able to separate free speech from libel and promotion of falsehood.
“If you say that Aregbesola wants to Islamize Osun and secede from Nigeria, you must be able to back it up with facts and incontrovertible evidence. Failure to do so, it has become libel and falsehood which is injurious to my person, the Government of Osun, our political party, the APC and ultimately the entire society.
The Governor urged the group to uphold the truth by ensuring fair treatment of all religions wherever they are, saying “as BoT, you need to watch out for these, not just as they affect Muslims, though Muslims have been unfair victims, but as they affect the society in general.”
Sultan, who was represented by the Deputy President General, Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs, NSCIA, S. O. Babalola urged Muslims not to be discouraged by the alleged bias and discrimination in th media.
Speaking on “Effective Use of Mass Media for Da’wah”, the guest speaker, former Managing Director of the defunct National Concord Newspaper, Alhaji Liad Tella, identified alleged ‘media bias’ against Islam as hindrance to the effective use of media for propagating Islam.
He maintained that Nigeria Government and the media were aware for a long time that Boko Haram are not Muslims, but intentionally addressing them as Islamic sect.
According to Tella, efforts to deceive members of the public from knowing that Osun State, especially public schools, is dominated by Muslims, necessitated the war against hijab in the state.
“The Government of Nigeria know that Boko Haram are not Muslims. They know when French jet was dropping arms for Boko Haram in Sambisa forest. They know that those arrested could not read Quran, yet, they continue attributing them to Islam.
“Media distortions and half truth or outright falsehood about Islam and Muslim is very confounding because the fundamentals of journalism are rested on truth.
“Fair balanced and objective reportage are the cardinal ethics and supposed inviolable principles of journalism. Unfortunately, this is not so with media reportage on Islam and Muslim in Nigeria.
In his welcome address, the national coordinator, MMWG, Ibrahim Abdullahi, said the aim of the group is to promote quality broadcast in media organisation all over the country.
He said the group is also working to correct misrepresentation of Islam and Muslims in any of the media by putting-in the correct, accurate and true picture of issues at stake in the right perspectives for the benefit of viewers, listeners and readers.