The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, says government has no intention to gag the media although practitioners must exercise restraint and show more responsibility in reporting insurgency.
The minister gave the government position at a media briefing in Abuja while reacting to the recent military operations at the offices of a national daily, “Daily Trust,’’ over alleged publication of reports that compromised national security.
The military, in a statement, had said that it laid siege to the offices of the Daily Trust in Maiduguri and Abuja because the newspaper divulged classified military information that put troops in clear and present danger.
Mohammed, who assured that the issues that led to the incident would be resolved through dialogue, condemned the opposition for latching on the issue.
“Lest we are misunderstood, we are not about to gag the press and there is no clampdown as some people, seeking to feed on the issue, have claimed.
“But the media must exercise restraint and show more responsibility in reporting the insurgency.
“If I may ask, what is so compelling in pushing a report that compromises national security?
“ What is so compelling in publishing a report that puts our troops in harm’s way?
“The media must strike a fine balance between the constitutionally guaranteed freedom to receive and impart information and national security,’’ he said.
The minister also underscored the need for overall support for the military.
He noted that the activities of a section of the media and some opposition political parties were demoralising the military and strengthening the insurgents.
“Without seeking or waiting for official clarification, outrageous casualty figures are prominently reported.
“Without consideration for national security, military plans are recklessly revealed.
“Not even in the United States, the bastion of democracy, does this happen,’’ he said.
“ Some opposition political parties have needlessly pilloried the military under the guise of criticising the Federal Government over the war against terror.
“Their actions amount to dancing on the graves of the men and women in uniform who have made the supreme sacrifice so that you and I can be safe and secure.
“ The military is not a political institution and must not be politicised,’’ he said.
Mohammed also disclosed that his ministry would soon launch a massive and multifaceted media campaign seeking support for the military who are in the trenches fighting insurgency.
He acknowledged that the fight against insurgency in the North East Zone had recorded some setbacks in recent times.
The minister assured that the gallant troops were up to the task and were doing their best to keep the nation secure.
“The setbacks are not unconnected with the routing of ISIS in Syria and Iraq and the focus of the terrorists’ attention on the insurgency in Nigeria.
“This again attests to the global nature of terrorism and the need for all nations to come together in fighting this scourge,’’ he said.
He said President Muhammadu Buhari had rallied regional cooperation in order to forge a united front against the terrorists, adding that his efforts were paying off.