By Tunde Oguntola, Abuja |
The minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, has described the recent attack on The Nation Newspaper and Television Continental (TVC), during the EndSARS protest in Lagos, as an attack on free speech and democracy.
The minister stated this in Lagos yesterday, when he visited the two media organisations to commiserate with their management and staff over the attack.
He said the action of the arsonists 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,” Alhaji Mohammed said.
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 organisation’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 said.
He strongly and unreservedly condemned the attack on the media houses, saying the attempt by the arsonists to stifle press freedom has failed woefully.
Alhaji Mohammed, who 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 to the attack.
The minister, however, assured that the federal government would continue to support responsible journalism and wished the two media organisations 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 organisations, 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, Mr Buki Ponle; executive secretary, Nigerian Press Council, Mr Francis Nwosu; registrar of the Advertising Practitioners Council of Nigeria, Dr Olalekan Fadolapo, as well as the acting director-general of the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), Prof Armstrong Idachaba.