- There were recent reports in the media, notably the Punch Newspapers Nigeria, of 27th January, 2020 with the caption: “FG, Salkida know Leah’s whereabouts-Father,” which seek to address me in strange and grave apparels regarding the aggravating insecurity in North East Nigeria. In the report, Punchng.com claims that Nathan Sharibu, father to Leah, the lone school girl from Dapchi who was left behind when her school mates, abducted by the Islamic State West Africa Province, (ISWAP) were released from captivity in 2019.
- Pa Sharibu, and every member of his family have naturally gone through unspoken trauma as a result of Leah’s captivity. His condition is understandable. Equally, given a possibility that over this period, a flurry of voices claiming to have the best interest of the family must have been feeding the family with strange narratives and fantasy scenarios, the assertions attributed to him by Punchng.com in the said interview to the effect that I know where Leah is, at best, be seen as unfortunate.
- But particularly grave and injurious to my person and professional integrity is the assertion by Punchng.com in the following description: “Ahmad Salkida, known for being the courier and media relations expert for the dreaded Islamist Boko Haram terrorist group…” That line is a premeditated attack on my reputation and professional integrity carefully plotted, in the light of the upsurge of official persecution of journalists on trumped up charges not excluding terrorism, by the newspaper to open me up for the next onslaught by the powers that be.
- I do not take this lightly and have forwarded the report to my lawyers for closer analysis and advise. As a journalist focusing on insecurity, particularly in the North East of Nigeria, I have painstakingly developed professional sources from all sides including the protagonists and the antagonists. The principle of primary sources in professional journalism practice is not lost to me even if I now see presumably old hands in the profession defecating on that sacred altar.
- It is disturbing that more than even the forces of any state junta, some media professionals have taken it upon themselves to serve up their colleagues as meal to the baying wolves. There is nothing anywhere under the principle of cultivating professional sources that suggests that a professional journalist is subsumed as a “courier” or even a worker in any guise for the source. This is the perfidy that Punchng.com is promoting.
- About a year ago, after I reported on an unfortunate insurgency attack of the military, no less a professional than Bayo Onanuga, erstwhile Managing Director of the News Agency of Nigeria, NAN and publisher of The News magazine declared publicly that I had committed treason. What have they not thrown at me? From the media, the military, security forces and even rabid religious people have accused me repeatedly and irrationally. Over every passing year time has always vindicated me.
- Religious people have also accused me most vigorously in recent times of using my report to promote Christian-Muslim divide in Nigeria. What were those reports of mine, you may ask? I reported the appalling executions of Christian captives by ISWAP. You may ask: has ISWAP become a state actor as to have its actions read as a reflection of government policy? When more recently I reported the beheading of Reverend Andimi, I carefully removed his religious toga. It was the Presidency, not Ahmad Salkida, who meticulously identified Andimi by his religious position. Have the same people accused the Presidency of the same promotion of religious division?
- If there is evident and escalating division between Christians and Muslims in Nigeria, the root can be found elsewhere not in the journalistic reports that I make. All of those who accuse me should actually know that the blood of Nigerians who continually are wasted because there are no warning information about the reality of war fronts in parts of Nigeria should accept that the blood of those innocent people are in their hands. Shouldn’t Nigerians have been warned before-hand, for instance, that the Damaturu-Maiduguri road was no longer safe? Between November, 2019 and January, 2020 do you have the figure of Nigerians who have been abducted and killed from this particular highway by the terrorist group?
- I am a journalist, a professional journalist and I know the boundaries, the ethics and the responsibilities of my calling. I am not a Commander-In-Chief. I do the best I can, always, to stick to those boundaries. The accusations notwithstanding, I shall continue to do my utmost best to bring verified and credible information to Nigerians in the areas I cover.