Some sections of Nigerians have berated The Punch newspaper over its report published online on Tuesday, June 15, with the headline ‘Outrage as FG demolishes 12 Lagos churches on alleged illegal plots’.
The newspaper which branded itself as the most read newspaper in Nigeria had written that the officials of the Federal Housing Authority on Sunday demolished 12 churches on 2nd Avenue, FESTAC Town, Lagos State.
Nigerians, who were outraged by the misleading headline, swiftly condemned the newspaper, accusing it of using what they tagged one-sided and biased report to fuel religious crisis in an already volatile country, making it look like the Federal Government is at war with the Church, and Christianity.
They noted that the newspaper, renowned for its Islamophobia, made it looked it was only churches that were affected, whereas mosques and other structures were also involved.
The newspaper also quoted one of the Pastors, who “accused the government of leaving certain churches, because their leaders had political connections.”
The angry Nigerians, in series of comments monitored by Muslim News, lambasted the newspaper, saying that the churches, and other affected structures, we’re businesses built on illegal lands.
Akin Philip said, “The Punch, you didn’t get this right. You sounded as if the target was on churches in that area where I was live on Sunday. All the structures on that line are all illegal and 99% of the people there knew that and the focus wasn’t on churches. We have mosques. Please make your findings well before posting any news.
Ameen Sanusi also stated that Churches, Mosques, houses, and a couple of businesses were affected by this exercise but The Punch Newspaper makes it sound like Churches were the target of the exercise.
“I think we should all agree now that reportage like this are the reason the country is in the state it is in presently. #punchnewspapers playing judge and the jury. You need to do better,” he added.
According to Fola Ademosu, “This story is slanted to feed the biases of the writer and his hirers. As someone (Akin Phillip) pointed out, several structures illegally erected within the affected area were pulled down. But The Punch headline tends to suggest churches were deliberately targeted for demolition.
“The PUNCH, it is not ethical to sensationalise an otherwise ordinary occurrence aimed at ensuring town planning laws are adhered to. The continued flouting of this law portends danger to the larger society and environment, far more than it will do those occupying the illegal structures.
“It is appalling that The Punch is fast losing the credibility, reliability, and appeal it garnered over the years, primarily due to poorly written stories and, sometimes, outright lies. If The Punch Newspaper intends this for click bait, then it is irresponsible. This is a clear case of stoking discord and inciting people to violence,” he added.
Oladimeji Olaide noted that the number of years the people have been on a parcel of land doesn’t matter as long as the allocation is illegal.
He said, “We have seen some buildings erected as far back as the late 70s and eventually got demolished when found to have been on an encroached land. So why the noise?!. Besides, a report had it that so many other buildings were also affected and business was not spared as well, so why making this report look like a religious witch-hunt? I hope The Punch can do better than this for reportage as this can incite religious crisis and thus add to already precarious state of insecurity in the land.”
Many concerned Nigerians including media practitioners called on the newspaper to either take down what they termed misleading story or do a follow-up, including “mosques and others” affected structures.
Nwetu Osita said, “Dear The Punch Newspaper online. I wrote to inform you that you are misinforming your audience on this particular matter and consequently need to take the post down to regain your time-honored respect.
“I hope The Punch will be bold enough to accept that this skewed report isn’t but garbage, and for it to remain relevant, there is need for a follow-up, which include the affected mosques and other structures demolished,” Lekan Ogunmola noted.
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