PRESS COVERAGE OF CONFLICT UNDER DEMOCRACY IN NIGERIA: A STUDY OF HOW TRUST AND SUN NEWSPAPERS COVERED THE ZARIA ARMY ATTACKS, NOVEMBER 2015- JUNE 2016.
1.0 Background of the Study: The historical background of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria was said to be dated back from the triumph of the Islamic Revolution in Iran
which culminated in the overthrow of Shah Government led by the country`s most prominent Cleric Ayatollah Ruhullah Musawi Khomenei in 1979. The country was all of a sudden transformed into an Islamic republic. The revolution had changed the calculus of the world powers about the country. The Israeli embassy in the country was ransacked and replaced by the Palestinian embassy. The embassy of the United States of America was overpowered by the students who led siege to the staff for more than two (2) years, all because the youthful students thought the embassy was the cauldron of subversion where subtle conspiracies were being devised to sabotage the success of the revolution. The revolution set Iran at loggerheads with many of its neighbors. It cut diplomatic ties with Egypt in the same year because the country offered an asylum to the deposed leader Shah Mahmood Pahlavi who evaded capture and fled to Egypt. Iran also got into diplomatic rows with Iraq, the country, being the custodian of many holy shrines, was coveted by Khomenei to experience the same revolution as Iran.
That diplomatic row resulted in a bloody war between the countries for nearly ten years.
As for Nigeria the Iranian revolution had opened a door for the penetration of Shi'a into Nigeria because the triumph of the revolution had nonetheless inspired Shaikh Ibraheem Yaqoub Al-Zakzaky to imitate the change of leadership in the country and apply it to Nigeria. Despite the homogeneous nature of Nigeria, Zakzaky thought it was still possible. Shaikh Zakzaky soon became something of a cause celebrate in Nigeria who embarked upon a series of peaceful but confrontational campaigns to revive the teaching of 19th century Islamic scholar, Shaikh Usman Dan-Fodio which was eroded by the advent of colonial intrusion into the Northern Nigeria and its subsequent transition to the democratic system of governance.
During his halcyon days he was incarcerated many times, he spent nearly nine years in detention, hundreds of his followers were killed in the period of more than thirty years he spent preaching. He was severally accused of not respecting the laws of the land but he was never accused of killing anybody because according him we don`t need weapons or suicide bombers to spread our creed, Islam means peace therefore we will never stray from this noble course upon which our religion is built. As we mentioned earlier, before the rise of Shaikh Zakzaky, Shi'a was nothing but a shadow of its name, but his decades of unfettered and relentless preaching has resulted in the conversions of more than 27 million people into the fold of Shi`ism.
To sum up the case, the genesis of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN) has directly dated back to the triumph of the Iranian Revolution in 1979 because it was the revolution that influenced and changed the entire life of Shaikh
Ibraheem Zakzaky to the extent that he devoted his whole life to establishing an Iran-like Islamic Government in Nigeria
As recently as 12-13-14 December, 2015, an incident between the Nigerian army and members of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria under the supreme stewardship of Shaikh Ibraheem Zakzaky occurred which turned out to be the most bloody carnage since president Muhammad Buhari was sworn-in as the president. Despite the fact the fact that the prima facie reason blamed for the avoidable massacre was the refusal by the members of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria to allow the convoy of the Chief of Army Staff, General Yusuf Burutai, to pass. There were conflicting narrations as to how the tragedy unfolded: the army said they had to resort to using force to clear out their way because Shi’as wanted to assassinate Burutai, while the members of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria refuted the accusation by adamantly claiming that hours before the arrival of Burutai, soldiers were filmed shooting unarmed members of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria. The conflicting narrations had nonetheless polorised the Nigerian media with the likes of the Sun newspapers surreptitiously supporting the army because it had averted the birth of another terrorist group like Boko Haram, while the likes of Daily Trust and other pro-Northern newspapers accused the army for abysmally its failure to learn from previous mistakes, a mistake of unjust massacre of Boko Haram members in 2008 after which they metamorphosed into bloody insurgents resulting in the deaths of over thirty thousand people including hundreds of security forces. It is truism that the army had used a sledgehammer to crack a nut, that`s is to say that ''the level force applied by the military was unbecoming to say the least and if care is not taken, it could be a leverage for the incubation of another arm group,'' writes Robin Abati, on his blog which was published by both the Sun and Daily Trust on their websites. As outlined by the title, this research is meant to investigate the conflict, and how the Daily Trust and the Sun newspapers covered the incident.
The Zaria massacre happened during an age when modern gadgets have become an integral part of our existence. With mobile phones and smart phones becoming affordable for all and sundry, and with mere a scroll, an incident could recorded and uploaded to an internet, it would be difficult if not impossible to suppress such a kind of bloodletting from reaching out to the public. This assertion was further corroborated by the Zaria massacre which despite the claims by the Nigerian Army for their so-called reason for the killings, the Nigerian media and The Human Right Watch, were able to get a number of clips which repudiated the claims. Days after the incidents, there scanty information about the remains of the victims, there appeared footage of a disturbed piece of land which was allegedly dug to mass bury the victims of that horrible incident. In the interval of two weeks, The Daily Sun published on its website photos of charred bodies of dozens of people who were burnt to cinder in the residence of Shaikh Zakzaky, with soldiers covering their faces with mass in a bid to fend off the nauseating smell of the dead. This development would not have been even thought up had it not been for the success technology. With all this becoming a tool for the print media, it is therefore a cinch to opine that the likes of Daily Trust and The Sun benefitted in one or another from technology which enabled them in no measure to discover what the military tried in vain to conceal.
The print media in Nigeria got a booming acceptance under this current democratic dispensation. However, this has resulted in partial and impartial coverage of many conflicts that sprouted up as a result of ethnic, religious and sectarian sentiments. Our purpose in this investigation is to discover how the recent carnage in Zaria unfolded by taking our cue from the Nigerian leading newspapers namely Daily Trust and the Sun.
1.2 Statement of the Problems:
The Zaria massacre came about as a result of a face-off that involved the convoy of the Nigerian Army who were set to pass-by their sanctuary named Hussainiya Baqiyatullah Zaria. NO 1: Sokoto Road Zaria, Kaduna State the headquarters of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria, the convoy was denied passage by the members of the religious group who accused the army gunning down their members of IMN. The face-off lasted for minutes before the army used heavy weapons to disperse the protesters. Hours later, the expeditionary forces of the Nigerian army were dispatched to Zakzaky's residence in Gyallesu area in Zaria Kaduna State. The residence was surrounded by hundreds of the adherents of Zakzaky who converged to prevent the security from attacking their supreme leader. With no arms to defend themselves, the army carried out one of the most heinous massacres in the history of Nigeria. Dozens of high profile allies of Zakzaky and more than one thousand others were killed in the siege. Some of the high profile figures that were killed include, Doctor Mustapha Sa`eed, the chief of the Medical Care wing of the Movement (ISMA), Ibrahim Usman, the Spokesman of Islamic Movement (Chairman of Media Forum of The Mevement), Shaikh Muhammad Mahmood Turi, Zakzaky’s Deputy and three more sons of Zakzaky Hammad, Ali and Humaid after the Nigerian army killed his three sons Ahmad, General Hameed and Sayyid Mahmud a year earlier during the Qud’s Day procession in solidarity with the Palestinian Movements all over the world. His security guards were all among those killed in the siege many of whom were burnt beyond recognition.
1.3 Research Questions:
1. What is the frequency of the coverage of the Sun Newspaper and Daily Trust Newspaper?
2. What is the positive and negative direction of the coverage by the Sun Newspaper and Daily Trust Newspaper?
3. What is the prominence of the coverage of the Sun Newspaper and Daily Trust Newspaper?
1.4 Objectives of the Study:
1. To find out the frequency of coverage of the Newspapers
2. To find out the direction of the coverage, positive or negative coverage.
3. To find out the prominence of the coverage by the Sun Newspaper and Daily Trust Newspaper?
Having concluded the laconic analysis of the study, historical background of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria and its activities, missions and non-violent movement as well as decisive roles the media and technology play in our fast changing world, we can deduce from the aforementioned facts that there is communication gap between the Nigerian government and members of the Movement in Nigeria under the leadership of Sheikh Ibraheem Zakzaky.
It is a well known fact that various researches have been undertaken as to find out the causes of conflicts that involved the security and civilians and the irony is that nearly all the suggestions made by the committees of inquiries ended up being ignored without executing the preventive measures that could have averted another conflicts in future. In order to make this project more objective, it is incumbent to upon us to review the works previous researchers who undertook similar research as the case in Zaria.
2.1 Theoretical Framework:
Moses O, (2013), Africa in Fragments: Essays on Nigeria, Africa and Global Africanity. The book is incisive and it was well-written engaging and eminently insightful book that’s meant to highlight the salient problems that lead to seemingly endless conflicts in Nigeria and Africa as a whole. The book is a collection of essays and it is categorized into three sections, namely How can Nigeria Survive, which details the possible solutions to corruption, love-hate relationship with government, Federal Character and religious conflicts. The section two, My Oga is better than yours: this section chronicled the high rate of favoritism in the governmental functionaries, and why the Northern Nigeria is left behind economically and educationally. Moreover, in section three, Africa, Corruption and Moral Consequence, discuses a wide range of issues including the difficulty in explaining Africa, Arab racism against black Africans, Boko Haram, African Islam, Foreign Islamic Heterodoxy and many. This book is vital to this research because it has highlighted the causes and solutions to entrenched impunity in the Nigerian security establishment which irritably leads to dissension, resentment and chaos and the rise of terrorist and rampaging militias such Boko Haram and Niger Delta militants.
Yakubu, U. (2007) Inside Nigeria: This is also a collection of essays bordered on Nigerian social, economic and political issues. As a journalist-turned lecturer, the writer has pointed out a lot of suggestions that are vital to the success of peace and harmonious relationship between various ethnic groups in Nigeria. He took his cue from an example of one remote village in Kaduna, despite the presence of more than two religious and ethnic groups the people were able to live in peace, love and sense of responsibility. This book is also important to this research because the book has indicated that the basis of existence in this world is to help others not to harm them and the military and other law enforcement agencies are established to protect people not to kill them as evidenced by the Zaria crisis.
Lemu, A.(20012) A Whitepaper on the Post-election Violence: This is a committee set up by the former President, Goodluck Ebele Jonathan to investigate the causes of the post election carnage that resulted in the deaths of thousands of people. And reprisal attacks were also noted in some volatile sections of the country. The panel had found out that the security were partly incapable of discharging their functions as a result of their woeful failure to nip the violence in the bud. The commission of inquiry also called for the prosecution of certain individuals who seemed to have played parts in the outbreak of the crisis. Lemu’s panel was vital to this research in at least two ways: the panel was discovered that excessive force was used in stifling the violence in Bauchi, Kano Borno which resulted in the deaths of many civilians and detained suspects. Moreover, the security forces were also blamed for failure to prevent civilians from being massacred in Southern Kaduna. The panel is also important to this research because it has in some ways showed how often the military used to pounce on the civilians and massacre them unjustifiably.
Adeyeni, S. (2012) Power, Politics and Death : this is an anecdotal account of the experience about how the transient tenure of the Umaru Musa Yaradua unfolded. The book was penned by Segun Adeniyi, Yaradua’s spokesman and he adroitly discussed the exigencies of office and despite his ill-health, the man had managed to turn a lot of things around.
While our review is not meant to analyze the stylish plot of the book, but there are certain areas in the book that are worth mentioning, such as excessive force applied in the clashes with Boko Haram. The writer has irritably admitted that, Yardua was not happy with the way some videos indicated how the police shot physically-challenged persons on close range. Moreover, it is against this backdrop that the group resorted to arm struggles.
It is clear that this book is very significant to this research, because it has at least showed that clashes between civilians and the military is as old as a hill.
Samuel, I. (2006), The Victims of Zaki Biam Massacre: This book details the untold hardship faced by the victims and families of the victims of Zaki Biam massacre during which thousands of people were reported to have lost their lives. The book contained pictures and biographies of those who lost their lives during the crisis. Moreover, the book described the aftermath and economic difficulties faced by families. Despite the monstrosity of the violence, no compensation was paid to the families. This among other reasons may be what made the writer described the killings as the worst form of inhumanity in Nigeria’s history.
This book is related to this research because it involves how the military applied excessive force against people rather than protect.
This research has tried to shed lights on some books that discussed various conflicts in Nigeria and we can use this topic as a basis of meandering into the Zaria conflict.
This chapter is set to explore a wide range of topics such as methodology, population of the study, sample techniques, instruments of data collection and qualitative content analysis.
It is a well-known fact that there are methods through which every research is carried out and we are able to carry out this research by attaching too much importance to oral interviews, visitation to the scene of the conflicts and consulting some literatures that discussed how similar incidence occurred.
3.2. Population of the Study:
As far as the population of the study is concerned it is noteworthy that copacetic efforts have been made to find out how far the newspaper in view have been covering the conflict since it erupted down to the time of fielding this report.
The Sun newspaper is able to stand out among the other Nigerian dailies, especially Southern-based newspapers owing to its seemingly unwavering reports of protests by the members of the Islamic movement to demand the release of their leader, his wife and hundreds of his followers detained without trial and access to their well-wishers. Since the outbreak of the clash, the Sun has published no less than 208 worth of reports, interviews and in-depth coverage of the killings.
As for Daily Trust, the newspaper has given much more intense coverage of the clashes than the Sun, publishing more than 261 reports, interviews and demonstrations by the members of the Islamic Movement to demand the unconditional release of their leader, and incisive columns from social affairs analysts. It is against this backdrop that we are bold to admit that both Daily Trust and the Sun have done great works by giving fair coverage of the clash throughout the timeline it unfolded.
3.3. Sample Techniques and Sample Size:
The methods upon which we have followed to ensure that this research is brought to fruition is multi-faceted but as is the case for every research, we have at last found a lot of evidence to prove out case, and also present our findings in the most logical ways.
3.4 Instruments of Data Collection:
To be able to analyze the content of this project, we have to discuss the processes through which we have followed to collect our data. As is peculiar to aspiring journalists, content analysis qualitative is the most efficient ways of showcasing the kind of challenges a researcher has surmount before he succeeds, so to sum up the case, we have used audio recorder to store up the interviews we have had with certain pundits and witnesses.
Recorder is instrument used mainly by journalists and researchers to record and store up vital information. Therefore, a tape recorder is very helpful in this project.
Moreover, library is also vital to this research and it is noteworthy that library is a place where books, literatures, and other writing materials are kept. So, we have used library to get access to newspapers with which could be used as a launch pad for this research. We have however, visited Bauchi State library with the sole aim of getting access to archival newspapers especially Daily Trust and the Sun newspapers. Accessing books such as Inside Nigeria, Africa in the Fragments, The Victims of Zaki Biam have definitely facilitated our research even though the research is not that easy. Many of such reports are included in chapter four.
3.5. Method of Data Presentation and Analysis:
Method is a process through which data is obtained and presented, and this project is successful as it has consulted more than five hundreds worth of reports, columns, interviews, protests, international outcry and in-depth reports about the clashes from the Sun and Daily Trust.
The literatures reviewed certain books such as African in Fragments, Inside Nigeria are also included to pave the way for laying the foundation of this project.
To sum up the case, it usually takes a researcher a long stretch, to collect that data but we have at last, managed to bring to light, the Zaria history and population, sampling techniques and instruments of data collections.
Since our return to democracy in 1991, Nigeria has been witnessing motley of bloody conflicts ranging from religious, ethnic to geographical background. However, as a watchdog of society, media always serve to report extensively about them and it is for this reason that we will delve into some of the bloodiest carnages reported by these two dailies from 1999 to date.
4.1. Historical Overview of How Daily Trust and the Sun Newspapers Covered Conflicts in Nigeria:
1 September, 2001 marked the first religiously bloody carnage in Jos, Nigeria. It was a religious crisis that culminated in the decimation of thousands of life and displacement of thousands more people. As far as coverage by the Sun and Daily Trust is concerned, both the newspapers were very vibrant at that time, since it was the first crisis in decades, and it had not become a recurrent decimal in the political landscape of the country. It was in fact as a result of the fair coverage of the crisis by the Sun that compelled the federal government to a drastic step in stemming the tide of the religious crisis. In this case, the Sun has positively covered the crisis without being sentimental as has now been the case in its recent ideological turn-round.
Three years later, another deadly religious crisis erupted in Jos, that time deadlier than the first one in 2001. Both the Sun and Daily Trust had given a fair coverage, and the Sun, wrote in its editorial titled “Time for the Federal Government to Intervene”, in the editorial, the newspaper urged the government to do whatever it took to ensure that the heinous crisis had not been repeated. Three days after, the Federal Government declared a state of emergency in the state, formally removing the then governor, Joshua Dariye from his office.
Another religious crisis erupted in Bauchi, 21 November, 2006. Scores of people lost their lives, with hundreds of others sustaining various degrees of injuries. The crisis was the first of its kind since the ethnic violence that rocked the state in 1991. The coverage by Daily Trust was something of a commendation because it had simply brought to light what has deprived us of peaceful coexistence in the North, that’s communication gap. It could be recalled that an incidence occurred in Government Day Secondary School, Shadawanka Barrack, when a female teacher, in her attempt prevent noise, asked one girl, a Muslim, to be silent. The girl refused, pretending to be reciting the Holy Quran, the teacher snatched the Quran and put it into his desk. No sooner had he snatched the book than news started making the round that a female teacher had desecrated the Holy Quran and lots of people started pouncing on Christians, burning tires in protest without substantiating the veracity of the news. The suggestion by Daily Trust for people to shy away from taking laws into their hands was apt. While on the other hand the Sun seemed to have taken a more sentimental coverage, writing opinions by some ethnic jingoists that apparently showed its sympathy with victims and the same time accusing the security and powerful figures of not taking measures to curtail the violence in earnest.
The most heinous religious confrontation in Jos was the one in 2009, in which thousands of people got massacred in cold blood. The crisis prompted the Human Right Watch to call for full investigation into the crisis. The coverage by the Sun and Daily Trust was both positive and negative because Daily Trust was sympathetic to Muslims who bore the brunt of the crisis while the Sun tried to give a balanced and detailed coverage of the crisis without being biased.
In other places like Kano, Taraba, and Adamawa similar crises occurred in 2005, 2006 and 2009 respectively. The coverage by the two newspapers was filled both positive and negative coverage depending all on the situation.
This detailed overview has highlighted the recurrent crises that sadly characterized the Northern Nigeria and the coverage by the Sun and Daily Trust are all positive and negative.
4.2: Findings and Discussion of the Zaria Massacre and How It Was Covered by Daily Trust and the Sun Newspapers:
In its front page, 13 December, 2015, Daily Trust reported that there was bloodshed as Shias attempted to assassinate Burutai. In the reported the newspaper relied solely on the statement issue by the Nigerian army spokesman who briefed newsmen shortly after the first encounter that the army had to defend itself after an assassination attempt was made its chief of army staff. There were no official figures as to how many people exactly lost their lives on that day but the members of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria said dozens of their members were gunned down by the army. However, the Sun also reported a similar story on the same date as Daily Trust, but on the caption that “Scores Die as Shias Attempt to Assassinate COAS.” Just like Daily Trust, the newspaper was under the impression that the clash was merely an encounter that was borne out by decades of mistrust between the army and members of the Islamic.
In the following day, (14 December, 2015) Daily Trust reported the killing of Zakzaky’s deputy, wife and children in the siege laid to the residence of Zakzaky by the army, the also quoted one resident of Gyallesu as saying that the supreme leader might have been killed owing to the fact his house was repeatedly shelled by soldiers and the house was set ablaze all in a bid to force their ways into the house, so his chance of survival was unlikely. In another story by the newspaper, the spokesperson of the military had, in an interview shed light on the encounter accusing them of making lives hard for the people therefore, their activities “had to stop.” On the other hand, the Sun took a different tuck by mentioning the first word of massacre in its front page. It titled “Massacre in Zaria as Zakzaky’s wife, deputy, aides killed.” The story was thought to have struck a chord with many a reader because it expressed fear of another rise of marauding insurgents like Boko Haram. Nonetheless, in it another story titled “Why We Must Learn from Boko Haram,” it was an SOS for the Nigerian leaders to not repeat the same mistake that precipitated the birth of Boko Haram, the mistake of extra-judicial killings of Boko Haram members without remorse. It was an opinion but muddling through the piece, the writer was, from all indication horrified by the flagrant violations of human right in the massacre.
On 16 December, 2015, was a story of the demolition of Hussainiyya Baqiyatullah Zaria, the religious sanctuary ran by the Islamic Movement. Due to the horror, the bloody encounter had caused, there were various condemnations of the massacre from within and outside the countries. Human Right Watch, Nigerian Bar Association, Muslims Association of Nigeria, and various activists were reported by Daily Trust to have voiced concerns about the alleged human right violations. In its page 6, Daily Trust reported that the US government demanded an investigation into the violent confrontation. There were widespread protests over the killings as thousands of people as reported by Daily Trust staged various demonstrations all over the country to demand an immediate release of Zakzaky in order to let have access to doctors because according to the spokesman of the movement, Ibrahim Musa, Zakzaky was seriously injured and he was in dire need of medical attention.
In another development, the Sun newspaper also reported in the same date that the prominent human right lawyer and Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Mr. Femi Falana accused the Nigerian army of massacre calling it “unjustified and inhumane.” In an interview the newspaper had with him, the acclaimed lawyer said the Nigerian military would pay for it. Pictures and various reports of demonstrations and condemnations were reported by the Sun. Moreover, refusal by Buhari to speak on the matter was also scorned at by Femi Falana.
In its Weekend analysis, Weekly Trust reported an incisive analysis of how the confrontation unfolded and lasted for at least 48 hours. The cover story also gave a brief history of Zakzaky and his primordial animosity with the security forces. It described him as a feisty cleric motivated by the Iranian revolution in 1979. Despite the fact that he spent more than five years in detention, he has never for once, embraced arm struggle against Nigeria. The newspaper seemed to have been sympathetic to Shias as evidenced by its punctiliousness as to support the army with a view to justifying the massacre. In this case, Daily Trust could be said to have given the coverage a fair or rather positive coverage in sharp contrast to the Sun which in its weekly coverage, brought a somewhat lopsided demonization of Shias, describing the clash as solely “Northern affairs” which was unlikely to spill to its southern border. In its Saturday Sun, (19 December, 2015) it brought what it titled “The Untold Hardship of Gyallesu Residents in Zakzaky’s Cesspit of Terror.” The story was said (as the newspaper claimed) to have gone on a fact-finding mission in Zaria in the aftermath of the bloodshed and discovered a lot of apprehension suffered by the residents Gyallesu. It reported that Zakzaky’s adherents were used to preventing people from entering the residential area without prior permission from their supreme leader. This according to the newspaper was what spurred many a resident into turning against Zakzaky, they even accused him of “creating a state within a state,” a claim denied by Shi’a activist, Haruna Elbinawi, who in a rejoinder to the report (26 December, 2015), clarified that before the arrival of Zakzaky, Gyallesu was a haven of lawlessness where petty crimes, rapes, banditry thrived but with his arrival, his followers volunteered to fend off their nefarious activities, an initiative that restored order and people’s confidence in the area. The activist also said that those who cheered at Shias massacre did so because they had a primordial hatred towards Shiism and what it stands for.
To surmise the finding by the Sun, one needs not be told that the report was far from being positive because it was not meant to demonize Shias per se, but it was rather meant to deride the Northern Nigeria and vastly Muslim population as a divided house whose decades of unity and dissension has divided them into warring factions to the extent that they are always happy whenever a disaster of similar sort befalls one sect.
A report on Sunday Trust (20 December, 2015), Kaduna State governor, Nasir El-Rufai, was quoted to have said that Zakzaky must be arraigned. He stated that on the sideline of an emergency meeting organized by the Northern Governors Forum. The governor took his cue from solidarity paid to him by his counterparts which they presume could avert the metamorphosis of Shias into another Boko Haram. This stand by the Kaduna was challenged by Mahmud Jega, a veteran columnist for the Daily Trust who on his Monday column (21 December, 2015) described the measure as being premature and counter-productive to a pledge by the governor to set up a judicial committee of inquiry and look into the causative cause of the conflict. On the hand, the Sun came up with a somewhat bizarre report that “Northern Governors Forum Supports El-Rufai,” the newspapers went ahead to report that the governor would do whatever it took to prevent another bloodshed in future by prosecuting whoever are found complicit in the crisis.
A week after the massacre members of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria, emboldened by the international outcry over the massacre, embarked upon street protests to force the security into releasing their leader, his wife and hundreds of their members who were kept incommunicado without access to their relatives and well-wishers. Both Daily Trust and the Sun were instrumental in reporting the motley protests that rocked different parts of Nigeria.
On Tuesday, 22 December, 2015, Free Zakzaky protests were both reported by the Sun and Daily Trust from different parts of Nigeria. It was the following day that the Sun interviewed Shehu Sani, a human right activist and also a senator from Kaduna State, Shehu Sani apportioned most of the blames to the military accusing them of various murders of innocent people for the past he ten years. The senator was also interviewed by Daily Trust two days after.
On Thursday, 24 December, 2015, Human Right Watch alleged hundreds of Shias, including women and children might have been killed and buried in mass graves. The report followed an undercover coverage by the BBC which interviewed dozens of Gyallesu residents. The residents told the BBC with the proviso that their names would not be exposed. The reports which were both published by the Sun and Daily contained the detailed narrations of how the residents led soldiers to houses of people who were alleged to be Shias and shot them to death. The watchdog also said that attacks on Gyallesu and Darur Rahma were unjustified because no attempt was made to assassinate any army officer there. The shocking revelations came about when members of the Islamic Movement, in solidarity with their Shias around the world were mounting pressure on Government to unconditionally release Zakzaky, his wife Malama Zeenatudeen Ibraheem and his followers.
It was not until two months later the Kaduna State formally inaugurated Judicial Committee of Inquiry to look into the causes of the bloody carnage. The inauguration of the committee members was witnessed and reported by both the Sun and Daily Trust newspapers but members of the Islamic Movement rejected the committee describing it as “lopsided and unequal” which only contained members who in way or another were staunch haters of Shias, and who would not begrudge to see the elimination of Shias in Nigeria.
In an interview with the Sun, Ibrahim Musa, the spokesman stated that they would only take part in the inquiry if they were given access to their leader, besides, they did not expect justice from government because they were already complicated long before the idea of inaugurating the committee was first conceived. They were various calls for Islamic Movement members to participate in the inquiry but the calls were met with dead ears as a result of government’ reluctant to allow them to get access to Zakzaky. The committee was expected to submit it finding in six weeks’ time but due to persistent call for the government and the members to shift ground and let Zakzaky get access to his followers. The sitting was postponed for six consecutive weeks in order to persuade the Islamic Movement Members to submit their papers. Finally their requested was granted, as reported by the Sun (14 February, 2016) and what Zakzaky told his lawyers shocked the country. He asked them to simply stay away from the committee because justice would not be expected from the government with whose surreptitious connivance the massacre was executed.
The sitting was resumed after the committee chairman gave a nod for the sitting to continue. It was three days later on that the secretary to the Kaduna State Government submitted a paper that unveiled the most terrifying details of how soldiers, with a permission from a magistrate court, secretly buried at least 347 people, including women and children in two mass graves.
The members also maintained their stand that no less than 1000 members were missing. Two weeks after the revelation by the Kaduna State government of the mass burial that the Islamic Movement in Nigeria published the list of 750 of their members missing in the Zaria massacre. The list comprised names, state of origin and local governments. Ten days after, the list was updated with further 72 names missing making the numbers 1022 people were unaccounted for.
As of the time of filing this finding, the report of the committee has not been concluded, Shaikh Ibraheem Zakzaky was still in detention, but a lot of people were allowed to see him. In a nutshell, it remains to be seen what would come out of that Judicial Committee of Inquiry, whether Zakzaky would be free or charged to court, whether justice would be done to murdered members of the Islamic Movement.
Having brought the detailed chronological timeline of Zaria conflict as well as their coverage by the Sun and Daily Trust Newspaper, we will now strive to delve into the direction of the coverage in order to discover which newspaper gave a positive or negative coverage. We will also try to discover the prominence of the coverage by two newspapers, that is to say, the newspaper that gave an extensive coverage of the conflict.
4.4: Zaria Conflict 2015: Between the Sun Newspaper and Daily Trust Newspaper:
Despite the fact that the Newspapers have shared in common the interests of the nations, but whenever an incident like transpired, they hurriedly seek to propagate certain furtive agendas in order to please their subscribers. In a nutshell, this investigation will dissect the coverage in details with a view to finding out how they reported it. For example, in its front page of 16th December, 2015, Daily Trust captioned "Score Killed as Zakzaky Arrested", the newspaper stirred up fear for another crisis in Northern Nigeria because people had not fully recovered from the Boko Haram insurgency and the newspapers apportioned most of the blames to the security because they failed to learn from their mistakes. But on the same day, the Sun newspaper published a report on page 6 raising the possibilities yet another birth of militias. Both reports indicated fear, however. the salient problem is Daily Trust is here to protect the northern interest while the Sun tilts towards protecting the interests of the Southern Nigeria, so it could be deduced from their reports that the Daily Trust concerns more about the danger of slipping into another bloody carnage in sharp contrast to the Sun which gives little concern about the whole issue because it might not reach the South.
As we aim to also determine which newspapers between Daily Trust and The Sun covered the incident most, it is worth noticing that each newspaper tried to bring up its own version of findings and both the newspapers have repeatedly and extensively reported the subsequent events such as demonstrations against the killings and Zakzaky’s continued detention, who until the filing of this investigation has been kept incommunicado without access to lawyers and well-wishers. Moreover, despite the copacetic efforts to cover the incident, we will have to choose and determine which newspaper covered the incident most and what it achieved with that.
It is a well known fact that for the first three month since the Zaria conflict unfolded, Daily Trust has reported extensively about the bloodshed, with hardly a day passing without one headline reporting on the face-off that existed between the government and members of the Islamic Movement who have refused to partake in the Judicial Committee of Inquiry in view of the order by Zakzaky to avoid the panel.
As for the prominence of the coverage, it is also a well-known fact that when it comes to journalism in Nigeria, regional snobbery and interests take precedence over national interests. As noted by James Olewole in ‘Inside Nigeria’ (2006) dearth of robust journalism, introspection and cavalier attitude towards national interests have virtually destroyed the fabrics of Nigerian unity so much that some newspaper recklessly, without compunction, resort to promoting negative propaganda with a view to achieve certain objectives.
In this case, when the Zaria conflict unfolded, Daily Trust has positively covered the crisis with high sense of altruism, calling on the government to set up an investigative panel in order to bring to book whoever found complicit in the massacre.
In its Two Page Comment, editorial titled, ‘The Night is Tired of Violence’ the newspaper briefly commented that religious crises are prevalent in Northern Nigeria than any other place in West Africa, and it is the government failure to make a dent in arms proliferation as well as incessant killings of innocent people by the Nigerian army that usually give rise to the rise of insurgency in the region. It called on the government to fast-track the inauguration of a panel to investigate the crisis because the “North is simply tired of violence.”
Moreover, in a nutshell, Daily Trust Newspaper has seemingly given too much attention to the crisis because it is there already to protect the interests of northern Nigeria unlike the Sun which after a month of fair coverage, it soon changed its stance in regard to the crisis and started spewing out unsolicited propaganda against Northern Nigeria. Following the report by Thisday that linked the abduction and eventual assassination of a Nigerian soldier by unknown gunmen to BVCmembers of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria in retaliation for the massacre of their members, despite the denial by the members that their movement would never resort to arm struggle, the Sun did not even report the press release by Ibrahim Musa that denied their involvement in the abduction. The newspaper went ahead with its smear campaigns and constant demonization of the North and everything that has to do with it.
As far as fairness and journalistic objectivity are concerned, we can, after a thorough research, conclude that Daily Trust has given a fair coverage of the conflict while the Sun has slightly or rather woefully lagged behind.
In every society media seem to play a significant part in promoting national unity, as we can see the coverage of the Zaria conflict by the two major Nigerian papers, namely the Sun and Daily Trust has brought to light how divided we are in moment of national crisis like this. If the Sun had followed the likes of Daily Trust in positively reporting the coverage, our opinions would not have been divided along regional boundary.
Having completed the in-depth research about the historical background of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria, and how it has grown into a force to reckon with, we will now summarize our findings in details.
5.1 Summary of the Study:
In chapter one, we have discussed vigorously how the movement under the leadership of Sheikh Ibraheem Zakzaky was influenced by the Iranian revolution as well as how he had become something of a cause célèbre as a result of his seeming defiance with the Nigerian governments which led to his incarceration for years.
It is in chapter one that we have adumbrated and outlined the questions with which we can build the basis for the research. These questions are:
1. What is the frequency of the coverage of the two newspapers? 2.
What is the positive and negative direction of the coverage by the two newspapers?
3. What is the prominence of the coverage of the two newspapers? We have, after outlining the research questions, brought out what we intended to find out about the research.
(1)To find out the frequency of coverage of the Newspapers (2) to find out the direction of the coverage, positive or negative coverage.
(3) To find out the prominence of the coverage by the two newspapers.
In chapter two, we have managed to bring to light literature review, and analyzed some books that discussed conflicts especially religious ones in Nigeria, and their possible solutions were also discussed in order to make sure that similar crises are nipped in the bud.
In chapter three, we have reviewed the extent to which Daily Trust and the Sun newspapers covered religious conflicts that resulted in deaths of a large number of people. Their propagandas and hagiographic defense of their geographic locations were also highlighted.
In chapter four, we presented the research findings of the study, detailing the timeline of the killings by mentioning various reports from the Sun and Daily Trust newspapers. The findings consulted the newspapers since the clashes broke out on 12-13 December, 2015 up to as recent as June, 2016.
It is against this backdrop that we come to the end of this journey, but it is high time Nigeria came to terms with the fast changing world in which human rights are integral parts of their existence. Apart from Syria which is ravaged by civil war, there is no country whose military massacred hundreds of its citizens to such a large scale in recent history. But the massacre was carried out and despite international outcry, the hubbub of the massacre, despite the inhumane way of burying the victims in mass graves, despite the killings of dozens of infants the impassioned outcry is met with deaf ears by the presidency which is rare and uncommon in every responsible country. Another area that has shown Nigerian growing tolerance with the minority is the way their sanctuary painstakingly built with their own money was razed down, and the reason given for the demolition was building permit was not given before it was built. It is however noteworthy that the building had been built long before the clashes but no such issue was brought until the killing. It is also so disheartening that a graveyard which serves as a place of eternal sanctuary be desecrated by without any reason to back up their arguments. But our hope is one day we will live in a country where people of different religious groups will come together and live and let live.
Media are also biased in this crisis because the likes of Daily Trust’s coverage are too biased to say the least. The way they allow some vainglorious analysts who nurture visceral hatred towards Shias to paint them black while denying members or restricting them to respond to the intellectual blackmails is always lopsided to some extent. This unfair reportage is inimical to the ethical standard of journalism.
It is a well known fact that religious crises are as old as the Nigerian political history of the country, and various panels have been set up in the aftermath of virtually every religious violence, but no decision has ever been taken to avert further occurrences of the conflicts that is why the religious violence and ethnic crises continue to claim the lives of many innocent civilians. In order to divest ourselves of further losses of lives, the following recommendations should be taken into consideration:
1. Religious leaders should be asked to preach love and brotherhood between one another on the basis of live and let live because peace and unity can only be actualized if people of different faiths realize that we have a lot more important things in common in terms of humanity than we have in difference.
2. In case of any inevitable crisis, the perpetrators should be brought to book in order to serve as deterrent to others which would also go a long way in averting further occurrences of the massacre.
3. Recommendations made by panels should be implemented without delay because many of similar white papers have been ignored and brushed under the carpet.
- Moses, O (2014) African in Fragments, Farafina, Lagos.
- Yakub, O. (2008) Inside Nigeria, Logman, Ibadan.
- Daily Trust Publications from 14th December, 2015 to as recently as July, 2016.
- The Sun publications from 14th December, 2015 to as recently as July 2016
- Skinner, N. (1980) An Anthology of Hausa Literature, NNPC, Zaria.
- Ibrahim Y. (1983) Hausa a Rubuce, NNPC, Zaria.
By Khalid Idris Doya from
Department of Mass Communication,
Federal Polytechnic Bauchi, Nigeria
Contact, email email@example.com