Aidoghie Paulinus, Abuja, FCT
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, said last week’s attack on The Nation Newspaper and Television Continental (TVC) during the #EndSARS protest in Lagos, was an attack on free speech and democracy in the country.
Mohammed stated this in Lagos during a solidarity visit to the two media houses where he met with the management and staff over the attack.
The Special Assistant to the President (Media), Office of The Minister of Information and Culture, Segun Adeyemi, in a statement made available to Sunday Sun, said the Chairman of The Nation Newspaper, Mr Wale Edun, and the Managing Director of TVC, Mr Andrew Hanlon, conducted Mohammed round the premises of the two media organisations.
Adeyemi also said Mohammed was accompanied on the visit by the Director-General, Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria (FRCN), Dr Mansur Liman; the Managing Director, News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), Mr Buki Ponle; the Executive Secretary, Nigerian Press Council (NPC), Mr Francis Nwosu; the Registrar/Chief Executive Officer of the Advertising Practitioners Council of Nigeria (APCON), Dr Olalekan Fadolapo and the Acting Director-General of the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), Prof. Armstrong Idachaba.
Mohammed stated that the action of those who invaded the media houses was a premeditated attempt to silence the voice of reason and stifle press freedom.
“We believe that the attack on the Nation is not just an attack on the Vintage Press, it’s an attack on the free press, it’s an attack on democracy because there can be no virile and robust democracy without a free media.
“Therefore, an attack on the Nation or any media house is a direct attack on freedom of speech and also democracy and, honestly, we believe that there is no justification whatsoever for the attack,” Mohammed said.
Mohammed, however, expressed delight that a few days after the attack, the two media houses bounced back.
He said the development was a sign of the commitment and sheer determination by the organization’s
management and staff to continue to promote democracy in the country.
“The fact that within a few days you were able to return to the stand and on-air, I think it’s a big blow to the attackers, who thought they could shut out the light of press freedom,” Mohammed stated.
Mohammed also condemned the attack on the media houses, saying the attempt by the arsonists to stifle press freedom has failed woefully.
He expressed dismay at the level of damage to the corporate headquarter buildings and other properties of the two media houses, maintaining that there was every reason to thank God that no life was lost in the attack.
Mohammed assured The Nation and TVC that the Federal Government will continue to support responsible journalism and wished the two media organizations a quick rebound in terms of properties, equipment and revenue losses.