Premium Times has sacked its Jos-based reporter, Andrew Ajijah over a false story credited to Miyetti Allah on the mayhem in Plateau in which 100 people were killed.
The management of Premium Times also resolved to apologise to Mr. Danladi Ciroma, the North Central leader of the apex cattle breeders’ organisation over the story published on June 25. The story with the headline, “ Killing of nearly 100 people in Plateau ‘retaliatory’ — Miyetti Allah’’ turned out to be false.
The online journal had reported that the violence that erupted in 11 villages in some local governments was retaliation by the herders whose cattle were killed.
The report quoted Ciroma as saying:
“These attacks are retaliatory. As much as I don’t support the killing of human being, the truth must be told that those who carried out the attacks must be on revenge mission. Fulani herdsmen have lost about 300 cows in the last few weeks 94 cows were rustled by armed Berom youths in Fan village, another 36 cows were killed by Berom youths. In addition to that, 174 cattle were rustled.”
Miyetti Allah distanced itself from the report that went viral and the insinuations that it justified the killings of over 100 people in Plateau State. Ciroma, was reported as saying that the killings were a retaliation of previous acts of deadly aggression against Fulani residents and pastoralists in the state. The denial and strong protest by Ciroma led to an extensive investigation by the respected online newspaper which discovered some infractions on the part of the reporter.
Premium Times therefore stated as follows: “While Mr Ciroma acknowledged speaking with a reporter on Monday in Jos, he insisted to PREMIUM TIMES that he did not make the statement credited to him. In fact, he said what he told the reporter was the opposite of what was reported.
“An internal investigation by PREMIUM TIMES found that there was no recording of any interview in which Mr Ciroma made the statement, neither was any statement signed or circulated by him that contained the quotes. The error was traced to our outstation reporter based in Jos, whose failure to properly attribute the source of the purported statement by Mr Ciroma misled the editors into believing that it was e-mailed to the reporter. The reporter filed the story on Monday morning based on ‘a statement’ from Mr Ciroma. But checks by PREMIUM TIMES following Mr Ciroma’s protest on Wednesday afternoon showed that the quotes were lifted from The Nation Newspapers. “.
The reporter later admitted to PREMIUM TIMES that he did not have a recording of his call with Mr Ciroma, but said the quotes mirrored the Miyetti Allah leader’s position on the latest killings in Plateau State.