Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani writes that the media is turning Boko Haram into superstars.
The media has also been sophisticating its coverage of Boko Haram's activities. What looks to me like the effort of steamy thugs to stock up on females to meet their physiological and domestic needs — while grabbing major headlines in the process — has been glamorised as "an attack on the right of girls to education." Additional reports that more girls were stolen from their homes — not school, this time — in Warabe and Wala villages of Bornu State, should have caused the media to finally acknowledge the abductions for the common criminality that they really are. Besides, anyone following the news closely might have heard that these abductions of females have been carrying on for quite some time, though never on the scale that has recently shocked the world.
Similarly glamorous motives were ascribed to Boko Haram's bombing of two newspaper offices in Nigeria. Headlines described the April 2012 incident as "an attack on freedom of the press." However, Shekau's video release, which followed soon after, gave his actual, rather primitive reasons: "…Each time we say something, it is either changed or downplayed…I challenge every Nigerian to watch that video again. There is no place our imam either said he will crush President Jonathan or issued an ultimatum to the government in Nigeria, but nearly all papers carried very wrong and mischievous headlines."
I can imagine the AK47-clad hoodlums scrambling to Google after each fresh aggression, frantically typing their leader's name and some relevant key words. There was nothing complex about the group's motives: The newspaper office bombings were a mere act of raw revenge.