A June 6th release by PRNigeria that has been published in Nigerian main stream press categorically broadcasts a dead or alive rumor for unknown and quite suspicious reasons that raise serious concern.
The release is captioned “Death Rumours: EL-Zakzaky is Alive, Hale and Hearty- Security Sources.” But a cursory internet and social media search and calls made to members of the Islamic movement pops up nothing on the alleged rumors. So why is PRNigeria suddenly creating an alert of a “dead or alive” rumor and giving its diagnosis before such rumor even exists to any significant proportion?
Inadvertently, PRNigeria which is the foremost media consultant of the Nigerian security agencies is propagating the rumor by giving it a life it otherwise did not have and would not have without this promoted press release. The agency by so-doing can be accused of attempting to “change the conversation” and “shift the goal posts.” Next step is, simply prove he is alive and all seems solved.
The reigning topic in the media has been the call for the Buhari-Osinbajo government to obey the constitution and courts and release illegally detained Zakzaky, Zeenat and grant bail to former NSA boss Sambo Dasuki. Current administration’s Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption, PACAC chair, Itse Sagay recently stood up and added his voice to those of Nigerians and the global community calling on the Buhari-Osinbajo government to respect the judiciary and save Nigeria’s young democracy. This has ultimately led to a quite uncomfortable position for the administration. It is on this wave that the sudden rumor propagation by PRNigeria comes, thus raising suspicion.
PRNigeria of Image Merchants Promotion Limited, founded by Yushau Shuaib, has previously been knocked for creating false narratives to defend the image of Nigeria’s army chief, General Tukur Buratai when his unexplained possession of local and international properties to the tune of millions of dollars became a national scandal.
Sheikh Zakzaky and his wife Zeenat have been illegally detained since December of 2015, over 500 days ago. A federal high court ruled their immediate release on December 2nd 2016, ordering their relocation and compensation. The court later declared the Buhari-Osinbajo government in contempt of its order when they failed to abide.
Dead or Alive Fake News Also Deters Calls For Buhari’s Impeachment, Resignation
In a similar case, when president Muhammadu Buhari travelled to London this February, a suspicious well tailored PR campaign immediately created and promoted fake dead or alive rumors in fake news websites. These dead or alive fake news stories succeeded in conveniently changing the conversation from “Buhari’s absence and capacity to remain in office,” to simply “whether Buhari was dead or alive.”
Of course the change in topic was to the advantage of parties more particular about keeping an ailing president in permanent perpetual power whether or not he is capable of discharging his duties or spends more time in the bed and hospital than office. The “dead or alive” preferred conversation, as against the “able or incapable” has been maintained ever since with renewed surreptitious releases in the fake news media any time Buhari travels for medical care. The latest was mid-May, upon Buhari’s latest medical trip, the presidential press men were again found hastily denouncing unsubstantial rumors of his death that no one else had heard.
Zakzaky And Buhari In The Same Rumor Boat
In the case of these rumors, all you have to do is prove that the person is alive and then it seems as though all is right. Interestingly, the preferred catchphrase, “hale and hearty” that was used to communicate a false narrative about Buhari’s health by presidential spokespersons and even the nation’s vice president, was the noted headline of the PRNigeria rumor propagating article on Zakzaky. The caption went, “EL-Zakzaky is Alive, Hale and Hearty.”
It is recalled that when Buhari returned he described himself as being anything but hale and hearty professing that he had never been so sick in his entire life.
While Nigerians are suffering, people are dying and others being detained illegally indefinitely, for some it appears to be all about PR stunts.
Dr. Perry Brimah; @EveryNigerian