By Steven Kefas
Today makes it 37 sad days since veteran journalist Luka Binniyat, a former bureau chief of Vanguard Nigeria, was sent to prison by the powers that be over frivolous charges. There have been different narratives as to why the journalist is still being kept behind bars with stringent bail conditions that even terrorism suspects and other high profile criminals do not have slammed against them. To folks loyal to the Kaduna state government, it serves Binniyat right for always publishing stories that border on the image of the state governor, Mallam Nasiru Elrufai, whom they can never dare to challenge even when it butchers their conscience not to challenge his arrogant actions, while to some – especially journalists in the state and beyond, Binniyat is a prisoner of conscience. Prior to his arrest and incarceration, Luka Binniyat had received countless threats by some of his brothers especially the SA to the governor on Media, Samaila Aruwan. On many occasions the latter threatened to beat up the veteran journalist whenever or wherever he sees him and his reasons are that the journalist is making publications capable of denting the image of his principal, the governor, whom he (Aruwan) is being paid to protect.
It is no longer news that Samaila Aruwan has been directly responsible for the victimization of some Southern Kaduna Journalists and activists since the Nasiru Elrufai administration came on board in May of 2015. It is on record that he threatened to deal with Dr. John Danfulani, his onetime political benefactor, and he ensured that the Political science scholar was imprisoned for many days before he finally resigned his appointment with the state owned University in Kaduna. Some journalists were maliciously transferred and even locked up in police cells on Aruwan’s recommendation.
Luka Binniyat is a household name in Nigeria due to his professionalism and long time service in the media industry. He is a fine journalist with high integrity. I got to hear about him years before I knew he is a brother from Southern Kaduna. One thing I know about Binniyat is his consistency in reporting stories as they happen. Binniyat had worked during the regimes of past governments with no problems until the Elrufai administration came onboard and saddled Samaila Aruwan with the heinous responsibility of protecting the self-damaged image of the controversial governor, whose utterances have been a source of controversy in the state and country at large. Binniyat thought he was only doing his professional duties, not knowing that he was stepping on some toes with his unique reportage, especially those containing controversial utterances made by governor Elrufai. Samaila Aruwan vowed to deal with Binniyat, a man he once called his mentor in the journalism profession. What then could have soured the previously cordial relationship between the two brothers? Power and nothing more.
The story which the government is using to persecute Binniyat is a story in which some students of the Kaduna State College of Education in Gidan Waya were alleged to have been killed by Fulani herdsmen. The story was later confirmed to be false. The story was said to have been narrated by a driver to Audu Maikori with video evidence showing the driver narrating the story to Binniyat and Maikori. The driver, an indigene of Gidan Waya, claimed that his brother was among the students killed and was even asking his boss Maikori for financial assistance to enable him travel home to bury his brother. Many see the story merely as the driver’s means of getting money from Maikori but it is abundantly clear Samaila Aruwan is now using it as a means by which to make good his threat of dealing with Binniyat. Nothing is impossible with this power drunk young man. It is worthy of note that after Lukas Binniyat found out that the story was false, he made attempts to stop its publication without success, which lends credence to the suspicion in some quarters that the driver might have been used to sell that well fabricated story as a bait to get Binniyat to publish it and then fall into the trap. Only one person is suspect here – Samaila Aruwan in conjunction with his friends at the Vanguard Newspaper who ignored Binniyat’s calls not to publish the story.
One cannot but ask the question why is Binniyat being prosecuted and not Vanguard Nigeria which published the story? Your guess is as good as mine.
Even though Binniyat’s bail conditions are ridiculous, they are not beyond reach but who in Southern Kaduna is willing to sacrifice the luxury of travelling in and out of the country for a journalist whose only crime has been reporting the plight of his people against the wish of the government?
One thing is certain and that is the fact that it is not Binniyat that is being imprisoned but the voices and consciences of the entire Southern Kaduna nation.
We may laugh and merry today while his stay behind bars lengthens but let’s not forget that they will come for us sooner or later. It ts not just about Binniyat but about US and our freedom as an oppressed people.
To all Southern Kaduna folks working for the state government, I pray that God opens your eyes to see beyond your office and the benefits therein. Learn a lesson from our brother Mock Kure whose only crime was writing a post on his wall telling the world that his village was under attack in December 2016 and that the security agents sent to protect the villages were not sincere in their operations. What he got next was a letter from the government relieving him of his appointment. He has since joined forces with the rest of us to stem out evil against the Southern Kaduna nation. He dared to speak up against evil and has since paid with his job. His lesson is there for us all to learn from. Courageous! For those who see nothing wrong with the way the government of the day is treating/persecuting the Southern Kaduna nation simply because they are in the corridors of power, all I can say is continue to pretend. What is clear is that whatever has a beginning must have an endcom
By Steven Kefas
Opinion expressed in this peace are those of the author and not necessarily this of Procyon News or its Editors/Publishers