Kaduna (Nigeria) — Journalists from Southern Kaduna under the auspices of Southern Kaduna Practicing Journalists’ Forum have threaten to drag Deputy Governor of Kaduna state, Barnabas Bala Bantex, before a court of law, for slander against its members.
Last week, a story went viral on the social media, suggesting that the deputy governor and his boss, governor Nasiru El-Rufa’i slapped each other at a state council meeting.
While reacting to the slapping story, the deputy governor blamed whom he called “certain Journalists of Southern Kaduna origin” for the spread of the story.
This did not go well with the journalists forum, who have already issued a statement asking the deputy governor to apologise or risk a court action among other measures to be taken to seek redress.
Full text of the Journalists’ Statement
We wish to notify the general public, especially our kinsmen from Southern Kaduna, that there is a grand ploy by the government of Kaduna state, specifically by the Deputy Governor of Kaduna State, His Excellency, Arc. Barnabas Bala Bantex, to destroy our credibility, soiled our relationship with our people and the larger world and thus make us susceptible for possible victimisation.
This is borne from his slanderous attack on our persons in his written speech read at the yearly Ham Day Festival which took place in Koi, Jaba Local Government Area of Kaduna State, Saturday, 26th March, 2016. In a gathering of respectable leaders of Southern Kaduna and scores of thousands within and without the zone, who attended the event, the Deputy Governor blabbed that, “I am aware of the spread a ridiculous rumors seeking to paint me as the victim of a fictitious fight.
This sort of lies are being spread by certain Journalists of Southern Kaduna origin for what reason? It seems they cannot believe the strength and vitality of the relationship that Malam Nasir El-Rufai and I have built in the service of Kaduna State and together we shall deliver the promise of restoration programme and our party’s manifesto for the benefit of all people,”.
We feel seriously offended by this fabricated allegation and irresponsible accusation on undefined members of our Forum. We feel that this is a desperate blame game to cover up the obvious toxic image of a government that has so far proven to be a monumental disappointment, from the judgment of majority of Kaduna state electorates.
It is unfortunate that Bantex, who, we respect based on his intellect, his onetime fine leadership qualities, and the fact that we all come from a civilize enclave from which we all share common ancestry, would unjustifiable malign us to cover for the opaqueness of this government. This is prejudice, blackmail and hate fused into one.
As our mark of seriousness against this allegation, we are insisting on the following within seven days from the issuance of this statement.
That Bantex provides evidence and prove that it was “certain Journalists of Southern Kaduna origin”, that started the “ridiculous rumour” that he fought his boss, His Excellency, Malam Nasir El-Rufai.
Failure to provide this evidence, we expect him to tender an unreserved apology to Southern Kaduna Journalists at a gathering made up of nearly or the same strength that attended the Ham Day Festival, and in all the mass media that have published or broadcast his allegation. Failure to heed to our demand will force to use every available legitimate means, including going to court, to seek for redress
For the records, we want to assert our innocence to his cruel allegation.
No member of Southern Kaduna Journalist could have started or spread that rumour based on the following facts:
That some of our members who have reported this state for decades have confirmed that there was never any regime in the history of Kaduna State, where the coverage of Government House functions was the exclusive preserve of about seven Journalists, like today. And there is a deliberate instruction to keep out our members. So it is not even possible for anyone of us to create such a story when we don’t know nothing about any SEC meetings under this government
It is not a secret that that there are all kinds of media aides, “consultants”; “experts” analysts, publishers etc etc to this governments that we suspect must have been used to plant the “slapping” story (assuming that slapping really didn’t take place ) with the aim of reaching out to our members as scapegoats so as to find ways of using state powers to descend on us.
Again, it has even been speculated that it could have been Bantex himself who invented the story and made feasible its spread on social media to show how much he dislikes the policy, utterances and actions of his boss to the extent that he had to engaged him in a slap-a-slap encounter to posit his position as a populist politician. It is said that Bantex is indeed happy with the story which makes him stand out as a democrat against a mindless demolisher, maker of ant-ireligious bills, a vindictive leader and hater of civil servants among others. Those who think so, according to our findings, point to the fact that Bantex always emerge the hero in all the versions of in the said “blow/slap exchange” story.
Luka Binniyat Amos Tauna