Disturbed by the recent attack on The Nation newspaper and Television Continental (TVC) in Lagos during the EndSARS protest, the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, says the attack is an assault on free speech and democracy in the country.
He said the action of the arsonists was a premeditated attempt to silence the voice of reason and stifle press freedom.
The minister spoke in Lagos on Saturday during a visit to the two media organizations to commiserate with their managements and staff over the attack.
“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,” Mohammed said in a statement by Mr Segun Adeyemi, the Special Assistant to the President on Media, Office of the Minister of Information and Culture and emailed to Persecondnews.
He was, however, delighted 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.”
Condemning the attacks strongly and unreservedly, Mohammed said the attempt by the arsonists to stifle press freedom had failed woefully.
Mohammed, who expressed shock and sadness at the extent of damage of the corporate headquarters 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 houses a quick rebound in terms of properties, equipment and revenue loss.
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 media houses.
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.