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‘It’s being resolved’ — information minister speaks on arrest of FIJ journalist

BY Janefrances Chibundu

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Mohammed Idris, minister of information and national orientation, says his ministry is working to resolve the issues around the detention of Daniel Ojukwu.

On May 1, Ojukwu, a journalist with the Foundation for Investigative Journalism (FIJ), was reported to have gone missing.

His family and the management of FIJ later discovered that he was in police custody.

The Nigeria Police Force (NPF) eventually confirmed that the journalist was arrested by operatives attached to the national cybercrime centre in Abuja over a petition filed against him.

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Speaking on Saturday night at the NUJ Press Freedom and Good Governance Awards in Abuja, the information minister said President Bola Tinubu’s administration is determined to ensure that the work of journalists “will continue unhindered and interrupted”.

“I made a solemn pledge on the first day of assumption of duty that this indeed would be one the best times for media practitioners in this country because we would say it exactly as it is for you to report. Press freedom is very important to uphold. But I keep telling us also, reminding us that your freedom also has to go with enormous responsibility. You cannot allow purveyors of disinformation and fake news to occupy your space,” Idris said.

“I know that we have had some challenges, especially in the last couple of weeks concerning one journalist who has had some problems with the security agencies. That problem has been solved or is being solved. I’m being reminded by someone today that there’s another one. We are also working to ensure that one is also resolved.

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“I am glad to report that UNESCO is coming up with a guide that would help all of us, especially practitioners in the social media to see that their work is done in a way and manner that is factual, honest, transparent, patriotic and also accountable to all Nigerians.

“My message here today is that much as the government is trying to ensure we have an enabling environment for all of you to practice this profession freely and unhindered, the responsibility is incumbent on all of us to also ensure that whatever we say, write and project is also truthful in the interest of our country.”

The minister reassured journalists of the commitment of the Tinubu administration to ensuring a free press.

“The Nigerian press will continue to be free. Their work will continue unhindered and interrupted. The message that President Bola Ahmed Tinubu has given you right from the time I was appointed as minister is that he is also a product of free press and therefore he would not allow during his tenure for free press to be trampled upon,” he said.

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