Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the Minister of Information and Culture, on Saturday October 31 has described the recent attack on the Television Continental (TVC) and the Nation Newspaper during the End SARS protest in Lagos, as an attack on free speech and democracy.
Alhaji Lai Mohammed described the action of the youths as assault on free press and democracy.
It would be recalled that angry youths during the escalated End SARS crisis in Lagos, attacked the properties.
The Minister made the assertion in Lagos on Saturday when he visited the two media organizations in Lagos to commiserate with their management and staff over the attack.
The Minister said the action was a premeditated attempt to silence the voice of reason and stifle press freedom.
“We believe that the attack on the Nation newspaper 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 newspaper 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,” Mohammed said.
He however expressed his 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 organization’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 added.
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 in the attack.
The Minister assured that the Federal Government will continue to support responsible journalism and wished the two media organizations 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 organizations, 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/CEO of the Advertising Practitioners Council of Nigeria, Dr. Olalekan Fadolapo and the Acting Director General of the National Broadcasting Commission, Prof. Armstrong Idachaba.