ABUJA – Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar has condemned the clampdown on media houses, vendors and seizures of newspapers in transit for delivery by military personnel nationwide.
In a press statement issued by his media office in Abuja on Saturday, the former Vice President expressed worry at what he called the “humiliating treatment of media houses and vendors in the course of conducting their legitimate businesses nationwide.”
He reminded that Nigeria is a democracy, and freedom of the press is a non-negotiable component of democratic governments.
According to Atiku, since the military is not above the law in any democratic society, they should not be the law onto themselves and recklessly infringe on the rights of citizens.
He explained that if the newspapers are engaged in any illegal activities that breach national security, there are avenues of dealing with such situation without brazenly violating the rights of citizens.
He said thousands of Journalists, drivers, distributors, vendors and other support staff are daily making a living from the newspaper industry, and therefore, the military personnel should not stop them from earning a legitimate earning.
The former Vice President also noted that the willful violations of citizens’ rights by military and other security personnel breach the tenets of democratic system.
He warned that by attacking the press, and arresting journalists, the country may inadvertently be slowing edging back to the dark days of military dictatorship, which took a lot of sacrifices by many including the Press to end.
While condemning the excesses of the military, however, Atiku advised media organizations to also demonstrate the highest degree of responsibility by ensuring that what they publish didn’t endanger national security.
In the face of the grim security challenges currently bedeviling Nigeria, the former Vice President also cautioned Journalists and media practitioners against abuses.
He stressed that the war on terror needs citizens’ and press’ cooperation, which may be hampered by the harassment of the press.
“The military and other security personnel should work harmoniously together in times of national crises. Security require sacrifices and understanding from all Nigerians, and the Press are no exception.
“Our media men and women should at every turn, weigh the implications of everything they intend to publish, especially sensitive stories that could undermine national security,” he said