The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, has said that the recent attacks on The Nation Newspaper and Television Continental (TVC), during the #EndSARS protest, are assaults on free speech and democracy.
He stated this in Lagos on Saturday when he visited the two media organizations in Lagos to commiserate with their management and staff over the attack.
The Minister said the action of the arsonists was a premeditated attempt to silence the voice of reason and stifle press freedom.
A statement by Segun Adeyemi, Special Assistant (Media), Office of the Minister of Information and Culture, quoted Lai Mohammed as saying – “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.”
Lai Mohammed strongly and unreservedly condemned the attack on the media houses, saying the attempt by the arsonists to stifle press freedom has failed woefully and expressed sadness at the extent of damage to the corporate headquarter buildings and other properties of the two media houses, said there was every reason to thank God that no life was lost in the attack.
He however expressed delight that a few days after the attack, the two media houses bounced back, a development which he described as 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.”
The Minister assured 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.
The Chairman of The Nation Newspaper, Mr. Wale Edun, and the Managing Director of TVC, Mr. Andrew Hanlon, conducted the Minister round the premises of the two media organizations, respectively.
The Minister was accompanied on the visit by the Director General, Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria, Dr. Mansur Liman; Managing Director, News Agency of Nigeria, Buki Ponle; Executive Secretary, Nigerian Press Council, Francis Nwosu; Registrar/CEO of the
Advertising Practitioners Council of Nigeria, Dr. Olalekan Fadolapo and the Acting Director General of the National Broadcasting Commission, Prof. Armstrong Idachaba.