News

July 10, 2024

FG drags Newspaper house to Ombudsman over Samoa LGBTQ report

SAMOA

Minister Idris

—Says no harm to say it’s wrong, tender apology

By Johnbosco Agbakwuru

THE Federal Government on Wednesday announced that it has dragged a newspapers house (not Vanguard) to the Nigerian Press Council over its Samoa LGBTQ report.

The government also said that there was no harm for the paper to admit that it was wrong in its report and tender an apology because of the harm the report has caused.

Minister of Information and National Orientation, Mohammed Idris, disclosed this while briefing State House correspondents at the end of the Federal Executive Council, FEC, meeting presided over by President Bola Tinubu at the Council Chamber, Presidential Villa, Abuja.

The Information Minister flanked by the Attorney General of the Federation, SGF, and Minister of Justice, Lateef Fagbemi, SAN, said that People have made their interpretation without even reading the report itself.

According to him, “Let me say that the principle here is that the press is actually a partner in any democratic journey and this administration particularly, the presidency of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu believes in the freedom of expression, believes in the role of the media in ensuring that there is continuous and uninterrupted democracy in our land.

“So government is not desirous of doing anything that will harm that freedom of expression. But like we have said, where we feel there is an infringement, where we feel that the media itself or a section of it, in this case this Newspaper has erred, because government still believes that the report by Daily Trust is not correct, Nigerians have been misinformed, and in the process a lot of damage has been done on the psych of our people.

“People have interpreted even without reading the report itself, the wording of the paper and have taken to make sermon and therefore, this further underscores the importance of the media and what we say all the time. If you want to report it is pertinent on all practitioners in the industry to ensure that you report what is correct and in the best interest of the nation.

“This is the message that government has and it is because of that, that we have taken to the industry’s own self appointed ombudsman to look at some of the excesses, we have made a complaint to the ombudsman to look at the report and we have sighted examples of where Daily Trust have got it wrong.

“So that the newspaper can come clean and also mention or apologise to the nation and the government.

“There is no harm in saying you are wrong in this one, we apologise and we get it right, but we don’t expect that we will just sit down and keep quiet when government feels that what a particular newspaper has written is not in the best interest of the country and it is not correct, it is misinformation and therefore action needs to be taken and the action we have taken is that as we speak now lodged a complaint with the ombudsman.”

Continuing, he said, “There was also a discussion on the report by the Newspaper, report that we have commented about in the past and the position of government on that report. The federal government insists that that report on the Samoa agreement was misleading, it was false and designed to create confusion in the land.

“My ministry briefed the Federal Executive Council on all the steps we have taken, including writing to the industry’s own ombudsman with a view to drawing the attention of the NewsPaper about that very misleading report. We expect that the industry’s ombudsman will look at that dispassionately and FEC will be patient to await the report of the ombudsman.

“Suffice to say, that the Federal Government views that report by the Newspaper very seriously and is urging members of the Press to please report responsibly in the interest of our country.

“FEC also stated its commitment to media freedom and the freedom of expression in this country. Like we have said overtime, there is no intention whatsoever for the administration of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu to gag the press or be seen in any way working in the way of media freedom or press freedom.

“More than ever before, government is committed to ensuring that the media, will continue to operate in an environment that is very friendly and supportive of their work as a strong pillar for the continuous enthronement of democracy in our land. We like we have said over and over again we call on the Nigerian media to please show restrain in the kind of reporting that they provide for Nigerians. So that fake news and misinformation will have no place in our society.”

Also commenting on the matter, the AGF and Minister of Justice, Lateef Fagbemi, advised the media to always channel any information they want to the appropriate MDAs before going to press.

He said, “The Minister of Information and National Orientation has just told you about the disturbing report by Daily Trust, that is being handled because we are conscious of press freedom and if you notice this administration has not and will not tamper with press freedom and it will not particularly because if you know the President, he has been an ardent supporter and believer in press freedom, in fact that is what got him up to this point.

“He is conscious of that, not only in press freedom, but in fundamental human rights as enshrined in the constitution. That is been taken up, because we want to ensure that we give it all necessary and friendly attention before we take any further steps if it fails. I hope it doesn’t fail.

“Generally government MDAs are available if there is any area that members of the Press will like to clear and the freedom of information act is alive and been rigorously honoured and in operation. So I will advice that if there is any information that the members of the Press require, it should be channelled to the appropriate MDAs before going to press.”