How non-Muslim journalists politicised newsrooms in favour of their religion – Hon Sanni Zorro


▪︎Says MKO Abiola’s newspaper, Concord a game changer, survived without alcohol and cigarettes adverts

▪︎Why Nigerian Muslims needed Muslim News to overcome deliberate misinformation about Islam

A former member of the House of Representatives and one time national president of the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ), Honourable Sani Zarro hosted the Muslim News Nigeria crew led by its publisher, Rasheed Abubakar at his Garki, Abuja office early this week, where he spoke exclusively on the age long Nigerian media deliberate misinformation about Islam. Hon. Zorro, who is an indigene of Jigawa state, revealed how the non-Muslim journalists have politicised the newsrooms in favour of their religion over Islam. He also described the now rested Concord newspaper, founded by the late MKO Abiola, as a game changer that survived without adverts from alcohol and cigarette companies. In the interview that lasted 2 hours, the passionate Muslim pen-pusher expressed his strong belief that Muslim News, Nigeria’s most authoritative Islamic newspaper, as a specialised media, will help in overcoming misrepresentation if it is supported by the Muslims.


MN: Do you believe the claims among the Nigerian Muslims that the media isn’t fair to them and their religion?

Thank you very much for coming, and, first of all, I am very happy that you have found it absolutely necessary to come up with this specialised medium that centres around reporting Islam and Muslims. Absolutely, it is a Jihad to come up with a medium that will explain Islam to Nigerian Muslims as well as non-Muslims. Why I said it is a Jihad is because Islam is being deliberately misrepresented in Nigeria and all part of the world. Islam is being projected as a religion of terror, horror and an ideology that promotes violence. This narrative has unfortunately turned to the worse for islam which used to be the fastest growing religion especially in the 1990s. This was attested to by many media organisations including the British Broadcasting Cooperation (BBC).

Sometimes in the late 1990s, I consulted for BBC on a particular programme which they came to propagate in Nigeria and it was titled ‘Islam: the Fastest Growing Religion in the World.’ That is why I said it is documented that sometime in the last part of the 20th century, Islam was really on the rise.

Even now, with all the deliberate blackmail and misguided information about Islam as an ideology of violence, Islam has been received very well in many Western countries. Also, in this part of the country, I read about how a couple is planning a public Islamic Nikkah in Owerri, which may as well be the very first Islamic marriage that involves an Igbo Muslim girl and a boy. So, we are very fine, happy and confident of Islam, despite their misrepresentations. Alhamdulillah.

I also welcome your publication because we in Nigeria, especially Muslims have been suffering from the deliberate misinformation in the Nigerian media that is largely owned by non-Muslims and whose editors, reporters, and quite a number of their strategic and influential staff are actually deliberately misinforming people about Islam. They are very partisan in favour of their religion. This is something you can see in their headlines; and because they do not subscribe to Islamic religion, it is very well known that they have politicized the news rooms.They conduct the activities of their religion in the premises of their media offices; and if Muslims ask for a mosque and space to conduct their prayers, they are often denied. Today, if you check a census of how many editors and publishers we have, or owners of the electronic media, it is clear that we are marginalized.

May Allah continue to forgive and bless late Chief MKO Abiola whose Concord Newspaper was actually a game changer. I am very proud to have benefitted from the experience I gathered at Concord Newspaper. I worked there as a journalist. There was a time Chief MKO Abiola as a matter of policy directed the editorial board and management of Concord Newspaper not to advertise alcohol and cigarette in the newspaper.

There was a lot of hue and cry. Those who were in Marketing and Sales Departments were of the opinion that we were going to lose a lot of revenue. However, for him as a convinced Muslim, who was always conscious of meeting Allah and accounting for all his deeds in the Hereafter, he decided to say “no” because his decision to ban alcohol and cigarette advertisements weren’t about money. It is about his final reckoning with his Creator who says we should not drink alcohol and who has banned him from advertising or associating with anything that encourages the drinking of alcohol as well as other vices.

Until he died, he never lacked. He had enough money to bridge the gap of the so called advertising revenue lost in that circumstances. Secondly, we as Muslims are not looking at it from the political point of view. Islam is a religion that discourages inflicting harm on fellow human beings, whether a Muslim or non-Muslim. Everybody knows that there isn’t anything positively derivable from the drinking of alcohol or from cigarette smoking and other vices except inflicting harm on oneself.

That’s why the cigarette industry was routed out basically from the United States of America. American judges and later Western judges decided to clamp very extreme and harsh judgments on tobacco manufacturing companies whenever victims of their products took the tobacco companies over the death of their kiths and kins or loved ones. They routed them out, but they have come here to set their companies in Ibadan, Zaria, Kenya and so on.
However, we thank God that in terms of policy, even non-Muslims like the late Minister, Ransome Kuti banned smoking in public places. He was not a Muslim but he did that out of conviction as a medical doctor who knew the harm that was being inflicted to even non-smokers. Secondly, billboards advertising cigarettes have been banned as well as kiosks and all other devices that cigarette manufacturing companies use.

It is a battle that is compatible with Islamic injunctions. At any rate, I am not sure if there is anywhere in any religious scripture that encourages drinking at any stage, especially the kind of consequential misbehaviour that is often associated with drinking, which to me, is the same with drug addiction because they have the same negative effects. Read more >>

Pictures by Adeniyi Abdul Waheed


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