The All Progressives Congress (APC) has unreservedly condemned the unreasonable siege on newspapers across the country by security agencies, warning that the Jonathan Administration, by tampering with press freedom, has taken on a battle it cannot win.
In a statement issued in Lagos on Sunday by its Interim National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the party said the President failed to learn the lessons of history that the Nigerian media can neither be intimidated nor suppressed by anyone, and that all those who tried to do so in the past lived to regret their actions.
It wondered why a government that is being asked to diligently prosecute the war on terror is instead vehemently waging a war on the media and using the security agencies to interfere with the country’s democracy.
“Had the government pursued the insurgents who are killing and maiming Nigerians with the same vigour with which it had descended on the media, the war against terror would have been long over,” APC said, wondering what kind of weapons that the small newspaper distribution vans could be used to ferry that cannot be conveyed by other, bigger vehicles that move around the country undisturbed.
The party described as disingenuous and ridiculous the explanation that an intelligence alert was responsible for the shameful and unacceptable clampdown on the media, and the platitude that the Jonathan Administration holds the media in high esteem.
“Even if one believes the Administration’s babble that President Jonathan holds the media in high esteem, how can that be justified by the indignities being meted out to the media under his watch? How does the so-called intelligence report justify the arrest of media workers, detention of distribution vans and the impounding of newspapers? How does it justify the restriction of newspaper circulation? How does it justify an Administration’s efforts to tamper with fundamental rights guaranteed by the nation’s constitution?
“With the clampdown on the media, the Jonathan Administration has opened a new but dangerous flank in its war against Nigerians. First. It was an attempt to stifle the freedom of assembly and the freedom of speech when a yeoman Commissioner of Police, Joseph Mbu, tried but failed to ban peaceful protests in Abuja. The outcry against the obviously-orchestrated ban on peaceful protests had barely died down when the government moved to stifle press freedom. But it is a lost battle,” APC said.
The party said a government that has failed to provide security for its citizens, 12,000 of whom have died in the hands of Boko Haram since 2009, and a government that has pauperized its citizens rather than empower them is suddenly acting like someone pumped with steroids and wasting its artificial energy on tackling the media, simply because it does not like its fierce independence and highly professional disposition.
“President Jonathan gave a hint of what’s to come when he blamed the media for over-reporting Boko Haram, forgetting that the media is only a mirror of the society. Our advice to the President is to immediately call a halt to the war on the media which his Administration has launched because it is one battle he cannot and will not win,” it said.