I read with adore an article published by Newsrescue.com (an online news blog) tittled “Sokoto University Lecturer Brags “Sunni Ulama” Secretly Orchestrated Nigeria Government Attacks Against Shia Islam” in what looks like an attempt to smear the personality of Sheik Jabir Maihula and assassinate his character. In the publication of 14 October, 2016, Newsrescue allegedly claimed that Sheik Jabir put up a post on his Facebook page rejoicing the murderous clampdown on Shia Muslims in northern Nigeria few days ago, and went in to interpret the Sheik’s post out of context by falsely accusing him of saying that the latest attacks on shi’ite members across several northern states were orchestrated by underground works by “Sunni Ulama” linked with the Buhari government.
Well, I found it utterly disgusting and unprofessional for a respected blog like Newsrescue to go about quoting people out of context and engaging in spreading falsehood against an innocent individual without pausing to capture the real context of his message. Unfortunately, this is how social media has became venomous to the collective peaceful coexistence of the Nigerian masses, it is fast proving to be a phenomenon of inciting hatred and promoting religious and ethnic jingoism instead of being a platform for positive growth and development. Lately, some hate mongers are hell-bent on destroying the long enjoyed peaceful and harmonious coexistence between people of different ethnic and religious institution in this country by going overboard to distort the polity and create unnecessary tension among the peace loving people of Nigeria.
Sheik Jabir Maihula who is presently residing in Nottingham, United Kingdom, put up a Facebook post in Hausa language on October 12, 2016, regarding the level of tremendous achievement the nation has attained so far under the leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari in terms of restoring peace and security in the northeastern troubled region, in which he made mention that Sunni Ulama have made significant contribution through the wise advices they gave to the government at all levels and perhaps the apparent positive effects of such advices. For record emphasis and to clear all doubts if any, this is what Sheik Jabir Maihula wrote and I quote:
“Dayawa cikin ahlussunnah yanzu sun fara fahimtar cewa: Kusantar Malaman Ahlusunnah ga jagoranci na shekara daya yafi tasiri a kan wa’azi na shekara biyar. Ku baiwa malaman ku uzuri kada ku munana masu zato. Wani aiki da kuke murna akanshi yau su sukayi shi a karshi kasa sanadiyar alakar su mai kyau da jagoranci.”
“Several ahlussunnah (Sunni scholars) have now begin to realize that: close association with the government for one year makes more impact than preaching of five years, reason with your clerics and don’t judge them wrong. One particular achievement most of you are rejoicing over was silently made possible by them through their good relationship with the government. “
All of sudden, Newsrescue began crying wolf where there is non and went on to maliciously misinterpret this statement by mischievously linking the highly respected Sheik Jabir with the recent mayhem and clashes that occurred between shi’ite members and the public on the day of Ashura in various cities in the north. I wonder how Newsrescue was able to come about with what was undisclosed in Sheik Jabir’s mind for there was nowhere in the said Facebook post that Jabir made mention of shiites members neither their doctrine nor their activities. This whole publication by Newsrescue was either an attempt to smear the credibility of Sheik Jabir and tarnish the image of Islam or another display of unprofessionalism by the so-called self acclaimed social media journalists who lacks the prerequisite skills and ideas to make good out of citizen journalism, hence misinforming the society with contaminated and venomous informations.
You see, this is one problem that the Nigerian media is facing in general, all our journalists of today cares about is attractive content that will attract more readers without given due emphasis to the consequences or impact it may have in the near future. They just goes about translating and interpreting opinion leaders wrongly. I want to believe the whole content of this publication is more or less an issue of misinterpretation, Newsrescue translated Sheik Jabir’s statement wrongly, akin to “the dog and the baboon” scenario where a non-hausa speaking journalist misinterpreted President Buhari’s quote which at the end brought lots of heated debates across the nation. But wait a minute, must someone translate what he doesn’t understand fluently? Newsrescue have really stepped wrongly on my toes.
I have known Sheik Jabir for a while now and I can state without doubt that he would never call or support any form of violence, whoever knows him will also testify the fact that he is indeed peaceful, honest, charismatic and perhaps intelligent. He has never called for violence in all his preachings both at home and abroad, he isn’t an extremist and will never be. I knew him very well, apart from being the chief imam of the jumu’at mosque in my neighborhood whenever he is in the country, he is also a friend and a mentor any youth would like to model. He is one of the most gifted and talented African youth around, a rare breed of modesty, and indeed a man of honour and dignity. He is perhaps a genius, a great gift to our society and undoubtedly the most islamically educated youth in Nigeria.
To this end, I will like to call on the general public to take this publication from Newsrescue with a pinch of salt, it came with no meaningful intentions and it is nothing to write home about. It is just another mischief in the series of mischievous attempts to portray Islam as a violent religion and tarnish the image of Islamic clerics in the eyes of the world. Newsrescue should equally take caution from now on, they should make sure accurate and real context of all their informations are filtered carefully before publication to avoid future embarrassments, they should also if possible tender an unreserved apology to Sheik Jabir Maihula and retract their earlier publication for good, and stop misinforming the society. A stitch in time save nine.
Usama A. Dandare, a social commentator writes from Sokoto. Reach him via [email protected],