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Despite clampdown on journalists, minister says media has been free under Tinubu

Despite clampdown on journalists, minister says media has been free under Tinubu
May 22
18:57 2024

Mohammed Idris, minister of information and national orientation, says press freedom has been upheld under President Bola Tinubu.

Idris, who spoke on Wednesday at a briefing heralding Tinubu’s first anniversary in office, said he is determined to improve the current state of press freedom in the country.

The minister’s comments come weeks after Daniel Ojukwu, a journalist with the Foundation for Investigative Journalism (FIJ), was detained by the police after he was “abducted” by officers in Lagos.

Muyiwa Adejobi, police public relations officer (PPRO), said the journalist had a case to answer over an alleged violation of sections of the Cybercrime Prohibition Act 2015.

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The FIJ management said Ojukwu was detained by the police over a story on contract procurement by the office of the senior special assistant to the president on sustainable development goals (OSSAP-SDGs).

On May 14, Jamil Mabai, a freelance journalist, was also detained by the Katsina Hisbah religious police after being invited to “interview their spokesperson,”  the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) said.

In March, Segun Olatunji, a former editor of FirstNews, an online news platform, was abducted in Lagos.

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Olatunji, a former Kaduna bureau chief of The PUNCH, was reportedly picked up from his house in Iyana Odo, Abule Egba area of Lagos state by some armed men.

After he was taken away, family members of the editor were kept in the dark about his whereabouts or why he was seized.

But the minister said some journalists hide under the guise of media freedom to spread misinformation.

“The media in Nigeria has been largely free, and President Bola Ahmed Tinubu is determined to make it even freer,” Idris said.

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“But like I keep saying, the freedom that the media enjoys also carries with it responsibility.

“What that means is that while it is within the right of the media practitioners to report whatever they think they should report about, they should also have a great duty to ensure that this is being done responsibly, honestly, and with a deep sense of patriotism.

“Meaning that there cannot be media freedom, or you cannot say something is free when it is also fake or not true.

“All purveyors of fake news, misinformation, and disinformation are not within this space called media freedom or press freedom.

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“Press freedom relates to the ability of a practitioner, or anybody for that matter, to relate his story responsibly, honestly, and factually.

“You cannot say what is untrue; you cannot say things to malign someone deliberately and call it press freedom or freedom of expression.

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“You can’t just pick up your laptop or your handset and just say whatever you want to say and say that you are practising freedom of expression; that is irresponsibility.”

Idris cautioned against the spread of misinformation and called for a collective effort from the government, media practitioners, individuals, and bloggers to combat misinformation and uphold professionalism.

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