By Emmanuel Elebeke
Abuja—The Federal Government has said that it has no plan to stifle freedom of the Press in the country because it was aware that free press was vital to the success of any democracy.
Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, stated this while reacting to allegation that the recent arrest of Premium Times Publisher and another staff was a ploy by the Federal Government to muzzle the press.
He said that the Federal Government had nothing to do with the recent arrest of the Publisher of the online newspaper, Premium Times, Mr. Dapo Olorunyomi and a reporter working for the paper, Ms. Evelyn Okakwu.
The minister claimed that the journalists’ arrest was purely a private affair involving a citizen and a privately-owned newspaper and wondered how that could be construed as an attempt by government to intimidate the media.
‘’We have said it before and we want to re-state it: The Federal Government has no immediate or long-term plan to stifle press freedom. Even the social media, with its warts and all, will neither be regulated nor have its operations tampered with,’’ Mohammed assured Nigerians.
The Nigerian police had on January 19 stormed Premium Times head office in Abuja and arrested two of the newspaper’s staff after conducting search at the property.
The journalists were taken to the Federal Capital Territory police headquarters at Garki 2, Abuja where they were held for hours before being transferred at 9.22p.m., to the police office at Wuse, Abuja.