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Buhari’s genocide threat: Reuters & the Ignoble route to yellow Journalism

By Ifesinachi Nwadike

As condemnations continue to trail Nigeria’s president’s senseless threat to visit the Igbo with a second genocide, Reuters, a formerly fine news media, has elected to become the unopposed facilitators of ignominy, justifiers of genocide and enablers of war criminals through their unfortunate linguistic grandstanding by referring to people of southeast Nigeria as “rebels.”

It is important to add the caveat that there are no rebels in southeast Nigeria, neither are IPOB/ESN behind the recent senseless wave of attacks that are being witnessed there. They have consistently denied carrying out the attacks, and until independent investigators prove otherwise, the attackers remain in the cover of their tag – Unknown Gunmen.

Nigeria’s president made a statement on June 2, 2021, threatening that “a rude shock” awaits “those bent on destroying the country through promoting insurrection and burning down critical national assets.”

While this might sound like a sweeping statement against all acts of terrorism across the nation, President Buhari’s irredeemable prejudice against the Igbo manifested in the following declaration thus:

“Those of us in the fields for 30 months, who went through that war, will treat them in the language they understand. We are going to be very hard sooner than later.”

The question here is: who are those to be treated “in the language they understand?” The answer is the Igbo people; the losers of the uncivil war of 1967-70, those who suffered and are still smarting from genocidal wounds and memory.

Whereas many have condemned the insensitive statement that does nothing but portray Buhari in his clannish regalia, yours sincerely is not miffed because I long understood that there is no drug to cure hate, talk more of prejudice – an annexation of hate that is DNA propelled.

It is in reporting the above statement that Reuters extended the boundaries of that prejudice by tagging the people of southeast Nigeria as “rebels.” The title of their report is “Nigeria’s president threatens rebels amid rising violence in southeast.”

An unwary reader may see nothing wrong in the titular posturing of the said report, but in their theorization of Yellow Journalism, newspaper owners, William Randolph Hearst and Joseph Pulitzer characterise the concept as emphasizing sensationalism over facts, it is on this note that Reuters ushers itself into the Yellow Journalism Hall of Fame, given that president Buhari was outright on the people he was addressing, the Igbo people, the children of the survivors of that horrible genocide, but he was messyful and as such didn’t use the term “rebel,” rather, Reuters adjudged them “rebel” – a sort of appropriate classification?

Ignorance, they say, is not an excuse before the law, in this case, it is not an excuse to be found wanting on factual reportage and representation of facts.

The world has become a small village with the help of technology and information is no longer hard to scout, especially for a news media with an appreciable level of sustained reputation reason why it should be a great deal to overlook what sounds like an attempt to distort a recent history while posturing as a bystander.

By referring to Buhari’s would-be-victims as “rebels,” Reuters tend to justify the war and its attendant genocide.

Reuters tend to support the continuous humiliation of people of Igbo tribe with war threats even as the successive Nigerian government keeps attempting to forcefully obliterate the history from their memory glands thereby refusing to grant justice to the victims of genocide and bringing the war criminals to book.

Reuters’s also claimed that the war that was fought “killed one million people.” “One million people?”

Do they mean Rwanda or Biafra with a proven casualty of over three (3) million, most of whom were children and women that died through starvation, a heartless genocide that Buhari heartily took part in.

The figures are in the open, in Biafra war literatures and museums across the world, so is Reuters being research-lazy or is this an attempt to whittle the numbers of the dead, to trivialize the Igbo people’s claim of genocide, to belittle the immensity of the burden of memory they continue to bear?

51 years after the war, the call for justice and fairness continues to tug the nation’s conscience but keeps meeting a stumbling block of calculated deafness, the outcome of which has resulted to tensions in the East.

Instead of Buhari to act like the president of a multiethnic nationalities like Nigeria, clannish agenda continues to fuel his resolve to revisit the children of his former and present victims with Biafra 2.0 and Reuters is, of all the ways to report his jaundiced threat, taking the ignoble route to yellow journalism to give a seasoned masochist another justification to draw blood while the world, in sickening politicization of death, looks away once more.

That Twitter has deleted the president’s unwholesome tweet on the grounds of its gesturing towards genocide and ethnic profiling and has even threatened to ban the president from using the app says a lot about the political leanings of Reuters.

Ifesinachi Nwadike

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