‘You’re becoming a tool for terrorists’ — Kadaria Ahmed hits BBC over documentary on bandits


Kadaria Ahmed, CEO of Radio Now 95.3FM Lagos, has described a recent BBC documentary as “irresponsible reporting”.


In a 50-minute documentary titled ‘The Bandit Warlords of Zamfara’, published three days ago, the BBC Africa Eye provides insight into the mindset of bandit kingpins, the booming kidnap-for-ransom industry, and how Zamfara’s insecurity may have been brought on by the ethnic conflict between Hausa and Fulani groups.


Zamfara is one of the states severely affected by banditry. 


In an opinion article published on Thursday, Ahmed said the BBC documentary fell below journalism best practices and is against public interest.


She said the BBC Africa Eye may be charged with aiding terrorism because it “provided” a platform for terrorists to express their extreme views.


According to the media expert, the BBC cannot use its airwaves to provide voice to terrorists who are attacking UK residents because doing so will elicit public outrage with legal repercussions.


“Journalists and now a global media organisation of repute, the BBC, which should know better, are becoming a tool for terrorists, even if unwittingly, by amplifying the faces, voices and stories of killers and marauders who are still operating with impunity across Nigeria,” she wrote.


 “The public interest argument seems to have been misunderstood, some may even say misrepresented, to enable sensationalist reporting that is very unlikely to be allowed on screens in the United Kingdom. By not upholding the same standards as they would in the UK, in their work in Nigeria, the BBC Africa Eye producers in their latest documentary titled ‘The Bandits Warlords of Zamfara’  have provided a global platform to terrorists and can be accused of becoming an accomplice to terror in the name of reporting it.


“The arguments also include an assertion that hearing from terrorists helps us better understand the conflicts and therefore come up with solutions. Under the guise of public interest, this is the argument that BBC Africa Eye seems to be presenting, to justify its decision to actively give copious screen time to self-confessed murderers and kidnappers, who are still actively involved in attacking communities, killing, kidnapping, pillaging and generally making life brutish and a living hell for the people of Nigeria’s North-western State of Zamfara and beyond.


“The two promotional clips released for the documentary, The Bandits Warlords of Zamfara, feature a marauder who should remain nameless here, confirming that he was part of those who raided Jengebe Girls’ Secondary School in the state, abducting over 300 students with the attendant horror of these sorts of crimes normally entail, and releasing them, after the payment of ransom.


“Evidently, the BBC Africa Eye team also had no problem utilising footage that appears to have been shot by these self-confessed criminals because this makes it into the second trailer. No media of repute would take this decision because it is generally understood that these sorts of videos are recorded by terrorists for one thing only: propaganda.


 “If terrorists were killing and kidnapping British citizens, especially young children, the BBC would not enable interviews by the perpetrators, particularly if they were still roaming footloose and fancy-free, without an iota of remorse for their crimes and also carrying out many more. The trauma to the psyche of the British public will be unbearable, and the BBC would not be willing to pay that price or risk the legal consequences sure to ensue.


“Here in Nigeria, concerns about the impact the amplification of terrorists’ voices will have on victims, their families and the public appear to be a secondary consideration to the BBC’s insistence on hearing from the bandits’ first-hand accounts and justification for their murderous activities.”

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