By Nwafor Sunday & Ibrahim Hassan
The Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami(SAN), yesterday said no Nigerian journalist was targeted for witch-hunt, adding that journalism is not a crime.
However, he noted, some people that claim to be journalists commit crimes.
The minister disclosed this at a Policy Dialogue on Protection of Journalists in commemoration of 2021 International Day to End Impunity for Crimes Against Journalists, in Abuja, organized by the Federal Ministry of Justice and Managing Conflict in Nigeria, MCN, Programme.
Malami said: “Nigeria operates a constitutional democracy that guarantees freedom of expression thereby providing conducive atmosphere and veritable platforms that enable Nigerians their inalienable fundamental rights to unhindered ventilation of opinions.
“The Federal Government has provided an enabling environment for journalism to thrive.
“I urge journalists to refrain from fake news, defamation, sedition, hate speech, incitement of inflammatory statements in their reportage that could jeopardize our corporate existence as a nation and hamper the peace we have been enjoying.
“National interest built in on corporate existence needs to bind our patriotic engagement in advancing the nation’s interest.”
According to him, “I am convinced that journalism is not a crime. Rather, there are apparent crimes committed by some people that claim to practice journalism.
“Press men are not in any way targeted for witch-hunt.
“It is essential to note that Nigeria operates a constitutional democracy that guarantees freedom of expression, thereby providing conducive atmosphere and veitable platforms that enable Nigerians their inalienable l rights to unhindered ventilation of opinions.”
In a goodwill message, the special adviser to President Muhammad Buhari, on Media and Publicity, Mr Femi Adesina, said that the current administration does not support crime or impunity against Journalists in the country.
Giving instances on how President Buhari’s administration has protected the lives and freedom of Journalists, the outspoken Femi spoke on the intervention of Aso villa when Villa correspondents of DW radio and Punch newspapers had issues in the villa which were resolved amicably.
On the safety and freedom of Journalists, Adesina opined: “This administration is not interested in harming journalists.
“President Muhammadu Buhari does not support impunity of journalists. This administration can not harm any journalist. We consider them as professional colleagues.
“You cannot divorce journalism from transparency in a democracy.Journalists play critical role in the society.
“They need to be protected and this administration is doing so.
“No Journalist would want to die at the cause of performing his duty,” he said.