Sunday, June 8, 2014 5:00 am
Media Rights Agenda (MRA) has frowned at what it describes as a “renewed onslaught on the Nigerian Press by the Goodluck Jonathan Administration with the arrest of newspaper workers, detention of media vehicles, confiscation of thousands of copies of newspapers, and other forms of harassment in parts of the country.
“The confiscation, which started Friday continued Saturday, such that several of the papers affected could not reach many parts of the country,” said Executive Director, Mr. Edetaen Ojo in a statement in Lagos, south-west Nigeria.
He said “rather than address the real and pressing security challenges facing the country, which have resulted in most citizens living in perpetual fear, the Federal Government had chosen to chase shadows by unleashing its military and security agencies on the media.
Ojo warned that no amount of media harassment and repression can make Nigerianblind to the fact that their Government has been completely unable to protect them.”
“We are not at all persuaded by the Federal Government’s excuse that the action of its security forces in obstructing the operations of media workers all over the country and harassing them for no legitimate reason, is a routine security exercise. There can be nothing routine is such widespread and systematic violation of the rights of media workers and the flagrant breach of Nigeria’s international obligation to respect and uphold the rights of its citizens, including the media.”
According to him, “It is ironic that the Federal Government, which is already facing severe and virtually unanimous public criticism for its incompetent response to the dire security situation in the country, has chosen to further alienate the media and the general population by using the excuse of fighting terrorism to harass innocent citizens and violate their rights under the Constitution and under international Law.”
While the Lagos-based Nation newspaper, said the paper was sold in Lagos and Abeokuta. Alone as
copies meant for other cities were impounded by the soldiers, an Abuja-based Leadership Newspaper,
reported that some soldiers who claim they were acting on “orders from above” confiscated Saturday’s
edition of the dailies heading to the various regions in Nigeria.
Managing Director of the Leadership Group, Azubike Ishiekwene said soldiers mounting a roadblock close to the tollgate along the Abuja-Kaduna expressway blocked the newspaper’s van heading to Kaduna and confiscated the entire consignment of the paper.
Mr. Ojo noted it is “sad that the Jonathan Administration has learnt nothing from the history of the media in Nigeria, particularly the lesson that the Nigerian press cannot be suppressed as the most repressive military governments that ever ruled this country failed woefully and totally in their efforts to suppress the media.”
Dr. Doyin Okupe, Senior Special Adviser to President Jonathan has however reacted to news that the that the president ordered the clampdown on Media houses as a result of “some isolated incidents of security checks reportedly carried out on some newspaper delivery vans in the last few days.
“We wish to state categorical that these reports are untrue, unfair and totally not in consonance with the posture of Mr President on issues concerning Press freedom.
“The Media, as the fourth estate of the realm is held in very high regards by the President and this has been practically demonstrated in various ways by this administration in the last three years,” said Okupe.
Defence Spokesman Major General Chris Olukolade said Friday, that the military swooped down on the affected newspapers as they contain materials with ‘grave security implications’.