Press Release: FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
16 May, 2008.
MPAC Statement on the Media Reports of Al-Qaeda Terror Threat in Nigeria
The Muslim Public Affairs Centre, MPAC, views with deep concern the media reports on the alleged warning of the Inspector-General of Police, Mr. Mike Okiro, on Friday 9 May, 2008, that the Al-Qaeda terrorist network, one of the most dangerous terrorist groups, “has threatened to send time bombs to Nigeria”. Although the Inspector-General immediately refuted the media which made the claim, there were further reports by the same media that an 80-man anti-terrorist squad commanded by a Superintendent of Police, ‘who had undergone a series of training, including detection of weapons of mass destruction in the United States’ has been set up in Lagos State. MPAC takes media reports of impending terrorist attacks on our country very seriously and are opposed to media activities that infuse needless fears in the hearts of the ordinary citizens.
MPAC deplores all manner of criminal activities either from state, organized gangs, criminal cells, and individual operations; whether the crimes are committed in the North, South or the Niger Delta area. While it is true that terrorism do exist and it is important to fight it wherever it exists, it is just as important for the media to ensure that its reports prevent fueling the fires of ignorance, fear and hatred by negligently parroting perceived threats and reporting alerts that would be immediately refuted by the police. Also, it will be detrimental to our nation’s counter-terrorism efforts to feign such type of journalism that really helps inform the need for vigilance and co-operation among the general population. Once again, the MPAC urges the media and senior government officials to show greater responsibility in their use of language when reporting on terrorism. There are sufficient words in both the Arabic and English languages that specifically refer to those engaged in sinful warfare, warfare contrary to Islamic law and the subtle association of Islam or Islamic Jihad with terror is simply unacceptable.
Terrorism, irrespective of persons or issues that are exploited to hatch or perpetrate it, and irrespective of the actors- state, groups or individuals- is patently sinful. Islam’s zero-tolerance policy against terrorism is clear, consistent and takes its source right in the Qur’an and authentic traditions of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). To consider that Islam or being a Muslim has anything to do with committing acts of terrorism is a notion that overflows with both ignorance and contradictions. Also, to accept that such acts exist exclusively amongst people who profess Islamic faith is to fail to take lessons from history. The media must therefore make careful efforts in their reports to be accurate and avoid the false association of Islamic or Muslim identity with terrorism.
If indeed there was a genuine threat of imminent terrorist attack, the police force would need to show proof of this as what we have been familiar with is that the police force routinely acts as lieutenants only when certain foreign embassies issue such warning in Nigeria. So it calls to question the new found intelligence gathering skills of the force to sniff this threat that eluded the overbearing global security network of the various embassies, evading their radar screen only for the Nigeria police force to know.
The Nigerian security agents not only must remain vigilant against the threat of attacks but also must not become a willing pawn of shrill propaganda from the ideological-driven Bush Administration which claims that it is waging a ‘global war on terrorism’ in the pursuit of peace, freedom and democracy. MPAC would not like the Police and the SSS in particular to be used as venal and brutal institutions that work for everybody except Nigerians. A well-reasoned and successful approach to protecting national security would capitalize on the possible goodwill and good public relations between our security institutions and the people they seek to protect. We must defend our country if we are faced with genuine threats of terrorist attack, but defending our sovereignty and the constitution is the first line of that defense. MPAC therefore opposes outsourcing our national security and intelligence gathering activities to those that are motivated by greed, power-lust, economic control, and the theft of natural resources. We call upon our law enforcement agencies to ensure that strict professionalism and focus are taken to bear on the way and manner they combat the evil of terrorism as terrorism affects us all equally.
Lastly, MPAC calls once more upon all the religious leaders to demand the adherents- in unambiguous terms- not commit any heinous crime in the sight of Allah (SWT). MPAC urges full co-operation of the Muslim community members with the law enforcement agents in combating and defeating terrorism threats that may genuinely face our country. The Muslim community leaders should also be in regular contact with the Police over this issue.