By Ajogwu Jerry
A civil society antiterrorism monitoring group, Coalition Against Terrorism in Nigeria (CATE) has tasked journalists in Nigeria to encourage factual reportage.
The stance of the group was made known in a statement signed by the National Cordinator, Gabriel Onoja made available to newsmen in Maiduguri, Borno State capital on Monday.
According to the group, the purported capture of Marte, headquarters of Marte Local Government Area of Borno State, by marauding terrorists operating around the Lake Chad was false.
The statement further cautioned news mediums operating in the country to desist from acts tantamount of encouraging insurgency in the country.
The group also extolled the Nigerian military tagging the armed forces as “the last hope of the common masses”.
The statement reads in full:
“The Coalition Against Terrorism in Nigeria (CATE) has tracked media reports of an alleged Sunday’s captured or occupation of Marte, headquarters of Marte Local Government Area of Borno State, by the marauding terrorists operating around the Lake Chad basin under the auspices of ISWAP. The report turned out to be propaganda launched against the Nigerian military for the benefit of terrorists.
One thread that runs through all the news reports is that they all trace back to a newspaper with focus on covering the northern part of the country, which not too long ago was caught out publishing details of a planned military operation to alert Boko Haram terrorists and their ISWAP to manoeuvre against the operation.
We note that the report of the said newspaper exposed a failure to reference on the ground facts but rather resorted to quoting “dependable sources” and “sources” to infer a development as serious as the alleged capture of a town. A few versions of reports on other platforms have embellished what they got from this initial source.
Knowing that series of attempted incursions by Boko Haram terrorists has recently been ending in their being killed in dozens, the story convoluted facts to create the impression that the insurgents suddenly become invincible overnight, whereas they were dealt decisive blows in their attempted attack similar to the trouncing they have suffered in recent weeks.
CATE has contacts on the ground in the affected area. They have confirmed that what transpired in Marte was blown out of proportion, which raises the question whether Nigeria is in the grip of mischief by a section of the media that has resolved to be unpatriotic. Nothing in the reported capture of Marte checked out.
Based on facts obtained from on the ground assessment, the story of the purported capture of Marte was found to be aimed at derailing the war against terrorism with intent to demoralize government troops that are carrying out the operation with selfless sacrifices that have earned the country respite from the scourge of Boko Haram. The publication of the misleading story is a red flag that a new propaganda offensive has been launched against the Nigerian Armed Froces with a view to boosting the morale of Boko Haram terrorists.
We urge the professional media organizations to continue adhering to the time-tested tenets of journalism that is built around objectivity, fairness balance and due consideration for national interest and the general public good.
We urge the Nigerian military to keep up its punishing onslaught against the terrorists that had thought they could make life unbearable for Nigerians. The recourse to lies by supporters of the terrorists is not enough to invalidate the divine mandate that the Niegrian Armed Forces have to liberate the country from its enemies.
Finally, the Nigerian military has confirmed it’s new posture as the last hope of the common masses and we urge this patriotic and selfless members of the armed forces never to be derailed by the antics of terrorists and their sponsors”.