Threats And Smear Campaigns Won’t Stop My Professional Reporting – Ahmad Salkida
Ahmad Salkida, the Editor-in-chief and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of HumAngle Media, has reiterated his commitment to professional reporting despite recent smear campaigns against him.
Salkida made this known on Friday in a press statement where he also detailed the media campaigns that have been taken against him.
The statement noted that the recent campaigns started after he and the HumAngle team worked on an investigative report that amplified the voices of women in Borno State whose husbands were ostensibly framed up, detained, tortured and in some cases disappeared, while state actors converted the women to sex slaves.
The report is titled, ‘Knifar: Women Facing Forced Family Separation By Soldiers Cry Out.’
“In the past few days, some paid hacks operating under different spurious banners and using a few sloppy media platforms have been used to drum up smear campaigns against Salkida,” Salkida said.
“On October 3, 2020, a platform, GCFR NG, seemingly a parody effort out to benefit from the time-honoured national honour rank, ran a misfit of a story, ‘Beware of Boko Haram agent, Ahmad Salkida-CAFA warns Nigerians’.
“The said report was derived from a random statement by a group that goes by the name, Citizens Against Fake Activists, (CAFA). One Comrade Richard Adie reportedly signed the statement,” he added.
Salkida noted that the group’s name was not registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission in Nigeria, adding: “It does not have any physical address or functional website and has no tangible physical or digital footprints whatsoever.
“The names associated with it are shadowy, bearing imaginary ghost emblems. The whole drama is so ghostly that it paid for a hotel hall for a press conference without leaving an address or phone number.
“The same day, Blueprint, a local newspaper, ran an opinion, “Ahmed Salkida and his broken video on Nigerian military,” whose author is a subject of a self-embarrassing pointer to the hatchet job.
“At the end of the piece, the byline states that `Obi is a security expert and wrote from Idumota, Lagos’ even though the author’s name was earlier declared as Subomi Adejare. Instructively, only two other publications online have the name of the “security expert” on them, both coincidentally and heavily praising the current administration.”
“On October 7, another faceless group, International Human Rights Protection Forum, (IHRPF), cast in similar anonymity as the first and calling itself public interest lawyers, released a statement reportedly addressed to the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr Abubakar Malami, SAN to media houses.
“As in the first, this group would want the government to classify Salkida as a terrorist and prosecute him. A few newspapers, including Vanguard, Independent and Blueprint, against the flow of the professional doctrines of satisfying factual and verifiable evidence in news reports, ran the statement,” he added:.
Salkida decried the lack of efforts by the media houses to verify the claims and criminal allusions, stressing that the publications did not carry out any “check on the identity of the platforms and individuals making the utterly vexatious claims”.
“The time tested ethos of the diligent process in news reporting seems to frequently suffer grave blows whenever the agents of fascism in Nigeria want to hang any spurious accusations on Salkida. This is deplorable.
“These dramas would have been laughable if they were not already reflective of the sad state of newsrooms and other key institutions of governance and security in Nigeria. What is the reason behind this renewed desperation to contrive any manner of a criminal act and hang upon Salkida?
“For the media platforms, in this particular case Vanguard, Independent and Blueprint, enmeshed in this unprofessional act of routinely doing the hatchet just for rogue officials, erasing all representations and manifestations of press freedom in a democratic country, I can assure you that posterity will mark you out for opprobrium,” Salkida said.
“A few decades ago, when the agents of dictatorship and fascism targeted one of Nigeria’s most iconic journalists, Dele Giwa, Editor-in-Chief of now rested Newswatch, accusing him of gunrunning, they did not use the pages of any media publication. The editors of that era would have asked for verifiable evidence.
“Today, editors can run any unverifiable thing in their papers and are ever ready to serve up their colleagues to the baying hounds for easy elimination. The agents of fascism and dictatorship in Nigeria have been encouraged by the steady unravelling of newsroom ethos, news values and professionalism in the media.
“The piles of unverified criminal smears on my person did not start today, nor is it limited to my person. For instance, Amnesty International has been routinely accused of unimaginable things and threatened,” he said.
Salkida noted that he had personally been under repeated threats and urged the public to look beyond the surface of the campaigns against him.
“Clear-headed individuals will not dig too deeply to connect the dots between the steady demonisation of Amnesty International and the organisation’s investigation and reporting of serial extrajudicial killings across the country by state actors.
“I once fled this country with my family on account of the threats to my life. While out in exile, the Nigerian Army declared me a wanted man. I took a flight and presented myself. They had nothing on me.
“I will restate that I’m a journalist, and I am committed to making my contribution to making Nigeria a better place for all.
“I do this professionally through the instrumentality of news reporting. As professionals in the fourth estate of the realm, we owe it to society to continually commit to the best standards of credibility,” he said.
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The day I saw that apology of a press conference with notable media houses’ branded mics at the podium I felt for the profession. How those notable household names gave prominence to such a body that’s alien to even them in order to vilify a colleague beats me. Maybe they did it for the patronage, or hoping that sensationalizing when reporting would generate some kind of buzz but I felt it was wrong.