Entertainment: Nigeria vows action against BBC over documentary on criminal group operations in Zamfara

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The Nigerian government has vowed to take action against the British television network BBC over the recently released documentary on the operations of criminal groups in the north of the country, amid the deteriorating security situation in the African country, highlighting that it "promotes terrorism".

Archivo - El presidente de Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari - Dan Kitwood/PA Wire/dpa © Provided by News 360 Archivo - El presidente de Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari - Dan Kitwood/PA Wire/dpa

Nigeria's Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, has called the documentary "unprofessional" and criticized that "interviews were given to 'warlords' and terrorist gangs, promoting terrorism in the country".

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He said that the authorities have sent complaints to the Nigerian Broadcasting Commission against the BBC and the newspaper 'Daily Trust' in relation to this documentary and demanded "appropriate action", according to the Nigerian newspaper 'Vanguard'.

Lai Mohammed has further said that the BBC has not adhered to the standards it would have had to meet in the UK and has promised sanctions against both media outlets. "It is being analyzed which part of the Broadcasting Code has been violated by the BBC and 'Daily Trust' and I can assure you that there will be consequences," he said.

"I guarantee that they will not go unpunished for clear glorification of terrorism and banditry in Nigeria. If they are not registered in Nigeria and are only sending signals to Nigeria, we will ask them to stop sending signals, simple as that," the minister argued.

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In this line, he stressed that "during the time of the IRA, the BBC would not dare to do what they are doing now in Nigeria". "The media is the oxygen that terrorists and bandits use to breathe," he said.

"It is unfortunate that reputable platforms like the BBC give space to terrorists, showing their faces as if they are Nollywood stars--the name by which the movie industry is known in Nigeria," Lai Mohammed concluded.

For its part, the British network recalled that the Africa Eye program often deals with controversial and complex issues and defended that the issue is of public interest and the actions of its journalists in preparing and publishing the documentary.

The 50-minute documentary examines the rise of criminal and terrorist gangs in the northern state of Zamfara, including interviews with leaders and members of these groups, responsible for dozens of attacks and the killing of hundreds of civilians and members of the security forces in recent months.

Zamfara state authorities in late June called on the civilian population to arm themselves due to increased insecurity in recent weeks, although the central government spoke out against this option and warned that it would encourage "lawlessness".

Armed attacks in Nigeria, previously centered in the northeast of the country - where Boko Haram and Islamic State in West Africa (ISWA) operate - have expanded in recent months to other areas in the north and northwest, raising alarms about the possible expansion of these terrorist networks.

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