Amidst the terror and destruction, the bombing of government establishments, and the seemingly senseless attacks on Nigerian civilians, the notorious Boko Haram extremist sect recently set their targets on media houses and publications not just in Nigeria but abroad as well.
Last week, the group, formally known as Jama'atu Ahlis Sunna Lidda'awati Wal-Jihadl, released a video recording via the popular social media website YouTube. The 30-minute amateur video montage already has more than 68 thousand views.
Issuing a warning of impending attacks to a number of news organizations, the Boko Haram leader claimed that the media outlets had released biased news.
To gain further insight on how the media has reacted, SaharaTV invited representatives from two news outlets that received threats from Boko Haram: The Nation and Voice of America’s Hausa News Service.
The Washington, D.C.-based Chief of Voice of America’s Hausa news service, Leo Keyen, told SaharaTV’s Chika Oduah, “our initial reaction was…after watching the video on YouTube and listening to Abubakar Shekau the leader of Boko Haram…and the translation of the text we had to meet in order to take immediate action.”
VOA has put in place certain security measures in Nigeria.
Keyen believes that Boko Haram is targeting VOA because of a “cash for information” story involving a Maiduguri man who received N500 000 by Nigerian police in exchange for information on some bomb making area. It is believed Boko Haram was upset and complained that VOA was encouraging people to “leak secrets about them.”
In stern defiance, Keyen said, “we are not in the same business as Boko Haram….they are in the business of bombing places, attacking and killing people… we’re in the business of reporting these incidents….”
“We have a mandate to save lives, reporting so society would be better,” he explained.
When asked what he would say to the Boko Haram leader if he were ever to meet him face to face, Keyen responded: “Philosophy cannot fly, because it’s not a rule to convert everyone to Islam. God is not a fool.”
He castigated Boko Haram’s seemingly hypocritical rejection of western ideologies.
“Why do you use the YouTube, phone, air crafts, SUV’s to bomb media houses?”
Soji Omotunde, the General Manager of Training & Development at The Nation news media organization, spoke of a recent telephone conversation he had with an anonymous caller who claimed to be a Boko Haram member.
Omotunde, who said the media should refuse to be “cowed,” said the conversation occurred on Thursday May 3 at about 8:30 pm.
Reportedly, the caller told Omotunde to “be very careful” and anticipate more attacks.
During the interview with SaharaTV’s Rudolf Okonkwo, Omotunde questioned, "if these people are so destructive, how do you expect people to invest in this nation?.....Since we are doing what we are supposed to do, we are not intimidated….our basic duty is to do our job the way it should be done."
He expressed his concerns that Boko Haram may even begin carrying attacks in Lagos, asserting that the aim of the extremist sect is to move further South.
Making reference to the emergency meeting conducted by the Newspaper Proprietors Association of Nigeria (NPAN) after the attacks on the office of ThisDay newspaper, Omotunde say The Nation will subsequently follow safety guidelines agreed upon by the association.
Watch the full interview with Soji Omotunde, General Manager of Training & Development for The Nation and the full interview with the Chief of Voice of America’s Hausa news service, Leo Keyen.