Says press freedom of the press must remain bedrock of our democracy

By Nsikan Ikpe

One more voice of concern has spoken up on Sunday’s security raid on the offices of Daily Trust Newspaper across the country.

It is the voice of Peoples Democratic Party, PDP presidential candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar.

In a tweet on Sunday evening, Atiku remarked:

Atiku Abubakar‏Verified account @atiku24m24 minutes ago

I have received with concern news of the sealing of Daily Trust corporate headquarters in Abuja. Freedom of the press is the bedrock of our democracy and nothing should be done to compromise it.

The reaction is coming following media reports that the offices of the media agency have been raided by military and police detachments in at least Maiduguri, Kaduna, Abuja and Lagos.

Elections are due in Nigeria in February and Atiku is widely regarded as the principal foe to incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressives Congress, APC.

In its own reaction, the International Press Centre equally decried the action as a threat to our democracy.

In its statement signed by its Director, Lanre Arogundade, the media watchdog expressed:

‘IPC considers this development as a fresh threat to freedom of the press as well as the freedom and individual liberties of journalists and other media professionals working in Daily Trust.

The action of the military is also a threat to democracy with the presidential elections, less than two months away.

The military is bound by the laws of the land and cannot in any circumstance be allowed to resort to extra judicial measures no matter its grievances.’

For former Aviation Minister, Femi Fani-Kayode, the situation throws up a critical question. In his own tweet, he deposed:

Femi Fani-Kayode‏Verified account @realFFK3h3 hours ago

The Nigerian Army has raided the offices of Daily Trust Newspaper both in Borno and Abuja, arrested journalists, carted off computers and sealed both offices off. Are we still in a democracy?’

And following on the heels of this very clear expression of nationwide outrage on the action of the security agencies, the Presidency has presently taken steps to defray the building tension:

In a tweet, presidency spokesman, Garba Shehu said:

Garba Shehu‏Verified account @GarShehu1h1 hour ago

The Federal Government has directed the military to vacate the premises of @daily_trust and the order has been complied with. Issues between the military and the newspaper as they affect the coverage of the war in the Northeast will be resolved through dialogue.’

Unimpressed however, many respondents still want to know who had authorised the raids in the first place. Will they get any answers?

Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, PDP presidential candidate

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