Governor Bello Matawale of Zamfara state has urged online media practitioners to shun partisanship and sensational reportage as the 2023 general election draws closer.
Speaking at a media briefing on Tuesday, Special Adviser on Public Enlightenment and Media, Zailani Bappa said a certain online publication has continued to publish falsehood against Governor Matawale.
He, however, commended others who have made objectivity and fairness its watchword.
He said; “However, in spite of this laudable co-operation and display of professional stance on your part, there are a few online media organisations that have allowed themselves to be used by some disgruntled politicians to smear the good name of His Excellency and that of his administration.
“You will recall that a certain online medium (although we learnt it is not based in Nigeria but, nonetheless, draws its audience mainly in Nigeria) has sometimes back reported that three Governors were accused by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission of syphoning state wealth and hoarding same in some of their property in Abuja and elsewhere.
“The story alleged that these three Governors were planning to use the illegally acquired money to pay salaries by cash in order to avoid being trapped by the new policy of the Central Bank of Nigeria regarding the introduction of new currecy notes.
“The same medium further made a follow-up story by mentioning the names of the alleged Governors, one of which they mentioned His Excellency Dr Bello Mohammed.
“Gentlemen of the Press, it is instructive to note that upon these baseless allegations as published by this medium, His Excellency, Dr Bello Mohammed immediately wrote to the EFCC through his legal Attoney his willingness to allow the anti-graft body access into all his private and official property in order to clear his name from, especially, the EFFCC allegation.
“His Excellency took this bold step in spite of the fact that our investigation confirmed that the follow story by that medium which mentioned his name among the three accused Governors did not actually emanate from the EFCC as claimed. Moreover, no salaries were paid in cash by Zamfara state Governor as it has never done that in the past and has no intention to do that either now or in the future.
“As we allowed this to lie down, just yesterday, the same medium published another baseless and unprofessional story accusing His Excellency’s administration of syphoning the wealth of Zamfara people through multiple bank transfers and cash withdrawals. The medium went ahead to mention names, mobile numbers and National Identification numbers of the supposed officers who aided the administration to syphone the alleged monies.
“By this latest onslaught, we are now totally convinced that the medium is a contracted hatchet jobber. We have no reason to join issues with this publicly discredited medium for publishing these lies against us. We find it necessary, however, to use this medium to debunk all the nonsense they consistently publish against us.
“At this juncture, His Excellency, Dr Bello Mohammed wishes to once again, invite the EFCC to investigate these allegations as published by this agent of discord, as we are quite aware that the medium is an agent and a tool in the hands of disgruntled opposition politicians in the state who find it convenient all the time to blame their woes on His Excellency, Dr Bello Mohammed and his administration.
“Finally, His Excellency wishes to urge all professional journalists and media organisations in the state to continue upholding the principle of fair play and balance in their reporting especially now that we are facing a critical last lap of transition into another democratic experience early next year.”