Presidency denies claims of being behind siezure of newspapers

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ABUJA – Dr Doyen Okupe, Special Assistant on Public Affairs to President Goodluck Jonathan, has described as untrue media reports that the Federal Government had ordered a clampdown on some media houses.

He stated this at a news conference on Saturday in Abuja.

He, however, noted that there had been some isolated incidents of checks reportedly carried on some newspaper delivery vans in the last few days.

“We wish to state categorically he said

The presidential aide added that the media as the fourth estate of the realm, was held in very high regards by the President.

This, he said, had been practically demonstrated in various ways by the President Goodluck Jonathan-led administration in the last three years.

He recalled that it was President Jonathan who signed the very contentious Freedom of Information Bill into law on assumption of .

Okupe noted that the President had consistently espoused the principles of openness, accountability and liberalism in his relationship with the media at all times.

“The reported incidences of checks being carried by the on major Nigerian and cities is not targeted at newspaper vans because of the contents of the publications as insinuated.

“Rather, the had explained that those routine checks were being carried following intelligence reports.’’  he said

He stressed that there had been reports that of some elements within the society planned to use such to convey materials with grave implications across the country.

“While we sympathise with media houses which might have suffered discomfort or the as a result of these checks  we assert, for the avoidance of doubt that the President has not and will never give any order capable of hampering the smooth running of any media   o’’ Okupe maintained.

He added that government would neither engage in nor encourage any acts that would constitute an assault on any media or infringe on the freedom of the press.

According to him, the has assured that no personal liberties of media practitioners or employees will be unlawfully tampered with.

He added that as soon as there was significant reduction in the level of the security alert, the ongoing exercise would be relaxed.

The presidential aide maintained, that because we live in very trying times, some sections or sectors of the society might experience some temporary discomfort.

This, he held, was in the overall interest of ensuring that the ideals of freedom , peace and security which we all hold dear was not compromised by a few unscrupulous elements in our midst (NAN)