By; JACOB ONJEWU DICKSON
A former chairman of the Editorial Board of Vanguard newspaper, Isiguzo Ikedi, has published a false story in which he deliberately quoted the Sultan wrongly. Whereas the Sultan of Sokoto and President-General of the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs, Alhaji Muhammadu Sa’ad Abubakar, said Nigeria could win the war against insurgents, Isiguzo Ikedi reported him as saying that anybody fighting Boko Haram was fighting Almighty Allah.
Meanwhile the Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) has described Isiguzo Ikedi’s publication as absolute falsehood, libelous and the mother of all fake news. The Islamic human rights organization called for the arrest of Isiguzo Ikedi. This was disclosed in a press statement issued by the director of the rights advocacy group, Professor Ishaq Akintola, on Monday, 24th February, 2020.
“We read with shock the deliberate demarketing of Sultan Muhammadu Sa’ad Abubakar by Isiguzo Ikedi who deliberately and wrongly quoted the Sultan as saying that anybody fighting Boko Haram is fighting Almighty Allah. It is arrant nonsense, unthinkable and therefore unacceptable. It is the height of yellow journalism, absolute falsehood, libelous and the mother of all fake news. It is also reckless, unethical and irresponsible. How can any journalist worth his salt put a blasphemous statement in the Sultan’s mouth?
“Isiguzo Ikedi is one of the black sheep in the midst of Nigerian journalists. He left the Vanguard newspaper as chairman of the editorial board on 29th June, 2015 in unclear circumstances. Only the management of Vanguard newspaper can confirm if his resignation nearly five years ago had to do with an unprofessional conduct similar to this subject matter.
“The exact words used by the Sultan were ‘We can win the fight against insurgency. Everyone is afraid of each other. I am sure we are going to win the war’. Surprisingly and due to his diabolical intention, Isiguzo Ikedi twisted it to read, ‘You fight Almighty Allah when you fight Boko Haram’.
“His Eminence the Sultan was speaking at the 5th International Conference on Love and Tolerance organized by UFUK Dialogue under the theme ‘Countering Violent Extremism for Peaceful Coexistence’. The event was held on Saturday, 22nd February, 2020 at the African First Ladies Peace Mission Conference Hall, Abuja. The Sultan was represented at the occasion by the Emir of Jiwa, His Royal Highness, Dr. Idris Musa.
“Where is the nexus? Where did Isiguzo Ikedi get the words which he put in the Sultan’s mouth? It is very clear that he has evil intention. This author of fake news must be pursuing an old agenda. Nigerians will recall that a certain section of this country accused the Muslim leadership of being the sponsors of Boko Haram when the terrorist group started launching attacks. Isiguzo Ikedi’s fake news on the Sultan is tailored to suit this narrative.
“There is no gainsaying the fact that his publication is laughable, detestable, provocative and malicious. It is designed to portray the Sultan as the sponsor of Boko Haram. We affirm that our amiable leader, Sultan Muhammadu Sa’ad Abubakar, is a man of peace, a bridge-builder and a true patriot.
“Our demand from Isiguzo Ikedi is this: You have committed slander against an innocent man. You also committed blasphemy by comparing killers and terrorists to Almighty Allah. Apologize within seven days or face the possibility of arrest, detention and prosecution. We have authored a petition against you which will be forwarded to the Inspector General of Police after the expiration of this ultimatum.
“MURIC appeals to Muslims throughout Nigeria to exercise restraint in the face of this provocation. We must abide by the words of Allah, “And the servants of the beneficient Allah are those who walk gently on earth. And when the ignorant ones address (provoke) them, their only response is ‘Peace be with you’ (Glorious Qur’an 25:63). We must, in like manner, remember the constant messages of peace and tolerance which the Sultan himself has always reeled out. Let us, therefore, patiently await the errant journalist’s apology failing which we will allow the law to take its due course.
“We call on the Nigerian Union of Journalists to do the needful. Journalists like Isiguzo Ikedi are capable of smearing the image of the media, nay, they are behind every crisis in this country and they can cause another war if care is not taken. Though war may be a good source of news to journalists, it is also most certainly a source of death for thousands of Nigerians (including journalists and members of their families).
“As we drop the anchor, we condemn Isiguzo Ikedi for deliberately twisting the Sultan’s statement. We demand an apology from him within seven days failing which we will cause his arrest, detention and prosecution for blasphemy, libel and defamation of character. We appeal to Nigerian Muslims to exercise restraint.”