By Maxwell Adeleye
The Federal Government has restated the commitment of the Buhari Administration to upholding the freedom of the press.
In a statement issued in Abuja on Wednesday to mark the World Press Freedom Day 2017, the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, described as inaccurate the recent survey by Reporters Without Borders, which alleged that Nigeria’s press freedom rating has been on sustained decline since 2015.
He said despite the inaccurate and fake news saturating the media space, the Federal Government has not put a single journalist behind bars as a result of his or her professional conduct.
Alhaji Mohammed said even though there are reports that some States have been hard on some journalists and bloggers for alleged misconduct, it has not been the policy of this Federal Government to join issues with the media, because of its unflinching commitment to upholding the tenets of democracy, which include free press and freedom of speech.
He said the recent incident involving the Punch Correspondent covering the State House is an aberration, adding that the speed with which the order barring the correspondent from the State House was reversed has lent credence to the fact that this government is not out to muzzle the press.
The Minister recalled that the accreditation of the current Chairman of the State House Press Corps, Ubale Musa, which was withdrawn by the previous administration, was immediately restored upon the assumption of office by the Buhari Administration, in order to give the media unhindered access to the Seat of Power.
He therefore pledged the readiness to this administration to always create a conducive environment for the media to thrive and to continue to discharge its constitutional mandate without hindrance.