by Chi Ibe
There seem to be no immediate end in sight to the attacks from the Boko Haram. Following the bomb attacks on three media houses, the Jama’atu Ahlis Sunna Lidda’awati Wal-Jihad, popularly known as Boko Haram, said yesterday that it attacked ThisDay newspaper’s offices in Abuja and Kaduna to send a strong message to the media that it would no longer condone reports misrepresenting it in the press, or blaming it for acts it knows nothing about.
In an exclusive interview, Abul Qaqa, spokesperson for the sect told Premium Times that ThisDay was singled out because its “sins” were more grievous. “They once insulted the Prophet Mohammed in 2001 and we have not forgotten. They recently said our Imam executed me which is false. Here I am speaking to you, I am alive and healthy,” he said.
Qaqa also said that his organisation was fed up with the deliberate misinformation being peddled about it in the Nigerian and foreign media. “This is a war between us and the Government of Nigeria; unfortunately the media have not been objective and fair in their report of the on-going war, they chose to take side.
“Some reporters are aware that I am Abul Qaqa, they know my voice through our long interactions and they also know the role of Abu Darda who heads the enlightenment committee and sometimes facilitates interviews; yet they (media) go by the unsubstantiated view of government that Abul Qaqa is in custody and I am the new spokesman or number two,” he said.
Qaqa, also accused the media of false reporting on the kidnappings of foreigners in the Northern part of Nigeria and on the YouTube video. “I challenge every Nigerian to watch that video again. There is no place our imam either said he will crush President Jonathan or issued an ultimatum to the government in Nigeria; but nearly all papers carried very wrong and mischievous headlines.”
The group’s spokesman further warned of more attacks on the media. “We have just started this new campaign against the media and we will not stop here, we will hit the media hard since they have refused to listen to our plea for them to be fair in their reportage,” he said.
In reaction to the attacks, Nduka Obaigbena, chairman and founder of ThisDay Newspaper said: “Today Nigerian journalism was attacked, but the truth will not be covered”.