By Philip Agbese
In the fight against terrorism in the north-east of Nigeria, the military is up against an array of enemies, not just Boko Haram, which has been degraded to the point where it should ordinarily pose no more threat. The military is now taking on elements of the Islamic State (ISIS). Interestingly, the ISIS being confronted now is not the same as the previous franchise, Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP), which is in reality a Boko Haram faction with backing from the Islamic State. All these groups and other relatively unknown splinter factions are not the greatest enemies there are in the region.
The greatest enemies the military has to deal with are the international news organizations with their NGO associates. They have proven to be the impediment to any meaningful takedown of the terrorists. Among these new organizations, Reuters and Agence France Presse (AFP) stand out for the sheer nuisance value they possess in addition to helping the Islamic state attain its agenda. A few instances of the duplicity of these agencies will outline how they earn the position of the greatest threats to Nigeria at the moment.
Number one scenario is that the folks that churn out the final stories are hundreds of kilometers away from Nigeria and certainly will likely never venture one hundred kilometer near Borno state. It therefore becomes easy for such editors to be detached from the reality that their activities directly impact human life, in many cases the slant of their stories have led to people being killed. What they do is to assign different sections of a story to different reporters on the field. The reporter files in an innocuous story that is then blended with similar stories from other reporters, only that the final version is twisted to favour ISIS as part of a larger global agenda of the organization involved.
Take the instance of a story by Reuters about militants killing 25 soldiers and several civilians. The “reporting” was done by “Maiduguri Newsroom” a nebulous way of saying the story was a cook up; there was another fellow in Abuja being credited for also doing the same reporting and yet another journalist in Abuja doing the “additional reporting” and another additional reporting by someone in Bauchi before someone did the final editing, apparently from wherever Reuters is headquartered for the day. It is no wonder that the Nigerian Army denied the report as fiction. If the army lost troops it should know.
Fake reporting like this are not done in error. They are deliberate and are intended a morale booster to the terrorists in period when they have taken severe beatings from the government forces. They are also intended to demoralize Nigeria’s troops by creating the false impression that the brothers in arms are being killed incessantly. Such false reporting also trivializes the achievements of the Nigerian Army, making it appear as if all the army reported it has achieved are lies thereby undermining its integrity.
Not to be ignored is the manipulation that has been the stock in trade of these news services. They have consistently reported Boko Haram, ISWAP, ISIS and their other versions in a way that does not provide context. For instance, they have never made fair disclosure to show that what the military is fighting today is no longer the Boko Haram that was made up of a group of local fanatics but that it is now an international destabilization force with backing from a handful of foreign countries in whose interest it is that Nigeria is fractured. They have also been taciturn in disclosing that fighters of the Islamic State from Syria somehow managed to get safe passage to Niger and Chad from where they make incursions into Nigeria.
There are two possibilities to the failure of these news organizations to report these identified areas. They are either grossly incompetent to an extent where they do not know their right from left and are unable to identify that reporting on the mutations of the terrorist groups, their financing and supporting countries is something they owe to the world, to humanity. Or, they full comprehend what they are doing and are committed to keeping their readers uninformed in order for their agenda to succeed, which effectively makes them part of the terror infrastructure.
As unbelievable as it sounds, the latter scenario is more likely. The likes of Reuters and AFP are terrorists supporting news outlets that have placed themselves at the disposal of killers for use against a sovereign state. This situation proves that these organizations are irresponsible and should be treated in that manner. There is no time that these news organizations will resort to self-correction even when their atrocities are now public knowledge. Authorities in Nigeria must therefore explore available options for calling them to order as the military is not likely to win the war against terrorism as quickly as it should do if it continues to contend with this kind of enemies.
Agbese is a human rights activist based in the United Kingdom.