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Sahara Reporters And Its Obsession With The Military – By Ogunmola Ayokunle

Nigeria operates on a faulty foundation. It is a country intricately entangled in different ways. But the greatest challenge Nigerians as citizens of a defined geographical entity has been the inability to overcome the indifference to their country on patriotism and loyalty as a people responsible to a nation.

A critical assessment of the actions or conducts of majority of Nigerians gives the impression that some people think their country is a temporary abode of habitation, as they would one day abandon it to an original home somewhere. It is utopian thoughts. Condemnably, this inclination has perpetually amplified national faultlines of ethnicity, religion or regionalism on every issue.

But the narrative on citizenship is different in other climes. Not long ago, President Donald Trump had a fierce confrontation with Speaker Nancy Pelosi over parliamentary debates on whether or not America should go to war with Iran over the crisis and controversies generated by the President’s order which led to the assassination of an Iranian Army General, Qassim Soleimani.

In spite of the official and unconcealed open bickering of these top senior America leaders, all parliamentarians whether of the ruling republicans or democrats harped defiantly on protecting the national or American interest first. In their contributions, all were concerned that personal animosities should not supersede the American interest. This is the tattoo of patriotism and loyalty responsible citizens wear at all times.

And all citizens of other countries of the world do not compromise their national interest, no matter the motivation or circumstance; whether as individuals or corporate bodies. Unfortunately, the experience of Nigeria is sadly different and extremely odd. Here, Nigerians do owe allegiance not to the nation, but their sentimental blocs or personal interests even where these are injurious to the national question.

The media plays an important role in reshaping society and molding public opinion. But in other countries, the media and its operators play these roles with ultimate regard and responsibility to their country of domiciliary. APF, an online newswire is of France and similarly, the Cable Network News (CNN) is of America.

However, no matter the challenge posed to them by professionalism and ethical demands, they do not compromise the national interests of their countries. It is like a taboo for either CNN or APF to practice their trade in a manner that is likely to compromise or jeopardize the national interests of their countries, particularly on security matters.

Nigerian citizens have a different perception of citizenship. They seek every day to pull down their country. They embark on actions which tend to even question the humanity in them. Some media in Nigeria are the worse culprits. Not only are they are excited by the security challenges that have held Nigeria at the jugular, but they ply their trade in a manner that unpretentiously expose them as saboteurs against their nation.

Cyberspace terrorism is globally acknowledged as a new, but very strong and lethal aspect of terrorism. There are even laws prohibiting the indulgence into cyberspace terrorism, which is by every ramification a potent threat in counter-terrorism efforts. But some media in Nigeria and its practitioners have given full support and exercise it wittingly.

Topmost among Nigerian media in this disapproving attitude against Nigeria or their country is Sahara Reporters (SR). This online publication operated by Nigerians owes its existence/funding to external forces. And to date, SR still draws its funding substantially from external sponsors, including countries which are Nigeria’s adversaries.

Therefore, SR has no feeling for Nigeria’s predicaments on insecurity. The touchiest aspect of it is that SR goes out of its way to indulge in destructive falsehood against the Nigerian Government, the Nigerian Military and particularly, the Nigerian Army, which are battling Boko Haram and ISWAP terrorism in the country’s Northeast.

SR has ordained itself as a news platform that has become a concentrated and brazen mouthpiece of the enemies of Nigeria. Every Nigerian and the entire world knows that Boko Haram and ISWAP terrorism which have troubled and tormented Nigerians for over a decade is funded and activated by external forces. The conspiracy against Nigeria is thick and, it is refreshed every day. And the actions of SR indicate that it has conscripted itself into plots to destabilize Nigeria.

So, SR is very incensed that the Nigerian Government under President Muhammadu Buhari and the Nigerian Military have not given terrorists or their sponsors a chance to overrun Nigeria. SR has devoted its news platform to rubbish the Military and efforts of troops in quelling terrorism in the country. They are tacitly frustrating the counter-insurgency operations in the country.

SR does it by mindlessly unleashing a pen and psychological war on the Nigerian Army and the troops in the frontlines through mischievous and fabricated news reports. The intention of SR through such invented and resentful reports is to give full support to terrorists, glorify their acts and embolden insurgents to plot and unleash more atrocities on Nigerians.

When SR is not reeling out fake news against the Nigerian Army, its editorials are fixated on dictating to Mr. President who is qualified or unqualified to serve the nation as Service Chiefs. SR has rendered its news platform to terrorists’ sponsors to ensure Nigeria is defeated in the war against terror.

Regrettably SR has marketed itself consistently as the pen wing of terrorists. It is acting as a news medium to complement terrorists’ efforts in executing the agenda of disintegration of Nigeria. So, SR is now courageous to take their battle to the doorsteps of Nigerian troops at the warfront.

The instruments adopted by SR even question their professional competence and ethical sanity. They engage in outright falsehood; publish unverified news, twist everything that comes from the theatre of operation to give a different interpretation to the public. By this action, they bolster the horrendous acts of terrorists to keep greasing their sponsorship by terrorists’ kingpins.

Just yesterday, SR quoted out of context, the former Commander, Command Theatre, Operation Lafiya Dole. And to blow-up their known mischief, SR speculated generously about deaths of soldiers and civilians as well as missing persons from the imaginary encounter between troops and insurgents. It however never complied with the professional creed of confirmation of the news, but went ahead to publish it.

The online publication sourced the materials for the said publication, after some mischief makers went to town with an alarming casualty figure, as it was done in the Jonathan’s era to instigate mutiny in the armed forces. SR faults everything or decision taken by the Army leadership with every bias. Whose interest is SR serving? Could it be that SR is more interested in festering Boko Haram/ISWAP terrorism in Nigeria than devoting their news platform to assist the Nigerian Government and people battle terrorism to a terminal point?

It should not be concealed to SR or its operators that it is into active cyberspace terrorism by promoting the agenda of terrorists and their financiers. What is however clear is that SR cannot continue to thrive in the corporate world on the blood of innocent Nigerians. By the strength of the prayers of Nigerians, nemesis will soon trace and catch-up with SR.

Ayokunle is a security expert and wrote this piece from Ibadan.



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