Aidoghie Paulinus, Abuja
The Federal Government, on Saturday, said no journalist was in detention in the country.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, made the submission in response to the report by the press freedom organization, Committee To Protect Journalists (CPJ), on a Nigerian journalist that has been
in detention for the over two years.
Special Assistant to Mohammed, Segun Adeyemi, in a statement made available to Sunday Sun in Abuja, said the Minister made the rebuttal at the Gala/Award Night of the International Press Institute (IPI) in Abuja on Friday.
Mohammed said the person the CPJ was referring to was never a journalist.
“Let me state here, without equivocating, that contrary to the report by the Committee To Protect Journalists (CPJ), no journalist is in
detention in Nigeria.
“Clement Abiri, who is being referred to as a
journalist, is not one. He does not belong to any chapel of the Nigerian Union of Journalists. He was arrested for pipeline vandalism and crude theft, including militant activities in the Niger Delta,” Mohammed said.
Mohammed also emphasised the commitment of the Buhari administration
to press freedom, saying that the media has nothing to fear under the present administration.
“In my opening comments at the 2016 IPI Congress in Doha, I said we as a government view the media as a partner. That remains true. I also said the media in Nigeria has nothing to fear from this administration and that if anything, we as a government are the ones who have to fear the media. Also, that has not changed.
”We are proud that the Nigerian media is one of the most vibrant in the world. We are proud of the role that the Nigerian media has played in our long march to democratic governance. This administration will continue to provide the enabling environment for the journalist to
function unmolested,” Mohammed added.
In his remarks on the theme of the 67th IPI World Congress: ‘Why Good Journalism Matters,’ Mohammed said apart from alerting
the government to the indispensable role of the media in the society, it reminds it of the purpose of journalism which is to serve all citizens in a democratic society and to tell the truth.
“If we all agree about this obligation, then it behoves the media to tell the truth, not just to power, but to the people, making it easier
for them to get the facts in the right context, thus facilitating their decision-making process.
“But in an era of growing cases of fake
news and disinformation, can we still say the media, whether traditional or new, is living true to this dictum?
“If the answer is no, what does this portend for the profession in particular and the
society in general? I am sure this congress is examining the issue critically in the course of its deliberations,” Mohammed said.
Mohammed urged the media to always report the government in the right context in order to give the people the opportunity to make informed decisions.
He said the present administration has kept its promise to fight corruption, tackle insecurity and revamp the economy.
The Minister further said before the advent of the present administration, a territory three times the size of Lebanon, in the North-east of the country, was firmly in the hands of Boko Haram but that not an inch of the territory is currently under the control of Boko Haram.
“That is a fact. When Mr. President was taking the oath of office, Boko Haram retained the capacity to stroll into this city, at a time
of its own choosing, to wreak havoc. Remember that the insurgents attacked the UN Complex, the police headquarters, motor parks, a
newspaper office, etc right here in Abuja.
“That is now history. And that is a fact! Yes, cowardly suicide bombings still occur
occasionally, such is the nature of a waning insurgency, what I will
call the last kicks of a dying horse,” he said.
In the war against corruption, Mohammed said in addition to prosecution of alleged looters, the government has embarked on
institutional reforms to address the menace, citing the implementation of the Treasury Single Account (TSA) and the establishment of an
Efficiency Unit to monitor the income and expenditure of government.
He said the government’s Whistle-Blower Policy generates massive dividends, listing 13.8 billion Naira from tax evaders, as well as 7.8
billion Naira, 378 million dollars and 27,800 pounds in recoveries
from public officials targeted by whistleblowers.
Mohammed expressed gratitude to the IPI for granting Nigeria the hosting right for its 67th World Congress, which he said, was an affirmation that Nigeria is now safe for citizens and foreigners alike.