For the first time since June 25 when the controversy started raging, Yusufu Aminu Idegu, the TheNation newspaper who wrote that Danladi Ciroma, North-central Chairman of the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders’ Association of Nigeria (MACBAN), said Plateau killings were retaliatory attacks by herdsman, has publicly spoken out on the matter.
In quotes first reported by Idegu, and republished by many other newspapers, Ciroma was deemed as saying: “These attacks are retaliatory. As much as I don’t support the killing of human being, the truth must be told that those who carried out the attacks must be on revenge mission.
“There have been recent reports of cow rustling and destruction of farms between Berom farmers and Fulani herdsmen. The people carrying out these criminal activities are well-known to the communities but the communities are hiding them.
“Fulani herdsmen have lost about 300 cows in the last few weeks — 94 cows were rustled by armed Berom youth in Fan village, another 36 cows were killed by Berom youth. In addition to that, 174 cattle were rustled and the criminals disappeared with them to Mangu [Local Government].
“Since these cows were not found, no one should expect peace in the areas. Even soldiers that went after the criminals to recover the rustled cows were shot by the armed rustlers and eventually escaped with all the cows.”
Othman Ngelzarma, National Secretary of Miyetti Allah, subsequently said Ciroma’s utterances did not represent the position of the group, adding: “The statement made by the zonal chairman should be credited to him. That should be his personal opinion because I believe he should be an indigene of Plateau State.”
Ciroma himself subsequently denied making any such statement, insisting that he was quoted out of context. With PREMIUM TIMES recanting the story, sacking its reporter who rewrote it and branding the story false after its own internal investigations, Idegu has now told his side of the story.
He did this in a letter he addressed to the Chairman, Correspondents Chapel, Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Plateau State Council.
THE LIES OF PREMIUM TIMES AND THE DENIAL OF CIROMA
PREMIUM TIMES in their apology to Miyetti Allah last week, which went viral, said I did comment that they were unnecessarily in a hurry to conclude their investigation on the denial of Danladi Ciroma who granted me interview. I still insist that that so-called investigation by PREMIUM TIMES is so shallow and strange.
If you read that apology again, PREMIUM TIMES alleged that I YUSUFU AMINU IDEGU circulated my story on a WhatsApp page for colleagues to copy. All of us here in Jos can bear me witness that I don’t have the habit of sharing my published story in WhatsApp page. By the way, it is against our rule here that no journalist should paste his story on any of our three platforms eg, Correspondents platform, NUJ platform and that of Ministry for information. So, on which reporters’ platform did I share that story as claimed by PREMIUM TIMES? Can any of us remind me of any other platform I circulated that controversial story on? I never did.
Again, the fact that Danladi Ciroma denied his comments and PREMIUM TIMES hurriedly apologized to Miyetti Allah does not mean Miyetti Allah is right and the media is wrong. Up till now I still remain positive and confident that Danladi Ciroma is lying, the fact that I have no record of the interview does not also make Ciroma right in his claim. Let us not narrow investigation into media publications to availability of recording alone, providing the voice recording could be a short-cut to the investigation, but in the absence of the short-cut, the long-cut alternative can be explored for thorough investigation. I’m happy my employer, THE NATION newspaper is doing that at the moment, based on the confidence they have in me; they are exploring all necessary alternatives to get to the root of it. My employers believe that sacking the reporter cannot be a solution in a case like this.
As colleagues or as a body of media practitioners, let us also not be too hasty in condemning any colleague that finds himself in this saga for the fact that in all disciplines, professionals can make mistake at a point in his work no matter your years of experience. I’m 19 years in Journalism today, but in spite of that experience, I’m not immune to professional mistakes.
Above all, I still insist I’m not wrong in this matter, I have no apology for Miyetti Allah or Danladi Ciroma.
Thank you colleagues for taking your time, remain BLESSED.