FG Dismisses Reporters Without Borders’ Survey, Restates Commitment to Press Freedom

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Olawale Ajimotokan in Abuja

The federal government wednesday dismissed a recent survey by Reporters Without Borders, alleging that Nigeria’s press freedom rating has been on a sustained decline since 2015.

 The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, said the report contained inaccuracies and should be taken with a pinch of salt.

 In a statement issued in Abuja to mark the World Freedom Day 2017, Mohammed stated the commitment of the Muhammadu Buhari administration to upholding the freedom of the press.

He said in spite of the inaccurate and fake news saturating the media space, government has not locked up any journalist as a result of his or her professional conduct.

The minister said even though there are reports of high-handedness by some states against some journalists and bloggers for alleged misconduct, the federal government has assumed a deliberate policy of not joining issues with the media, because of its unflinching commitment to upholding the tenets of democracy, which include free press and freedom of speech.

He described the recent incident involving The Punch Correspondent covering the State House as 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.

Mohammed recalled that the accreditation of the current Chairman of the State House Press Corps, Ubale Musa, which was withdrawn by the previous administration, was immediately restored upon the assumption of office by the Buhari administration, in order to give the media unhindered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.