From NDUKAIHE UGWU, Abuja
A human rights and pro-democracy group, Human Rights, Liberty Access and Peace Defenders’ Foundation (HURIDE), has called for the immediate resignation of the Minister of Information and National Orientation, Alhaji Lai Muhammed over his “consistent and undignified” attempts at muscling the media in Nigeria.
HURIDE, at a press briefing yesterday in Abuja, said the “garrulous Minister” should throw in the towel for his anti-media, anti-people disposition, which would appear to be an “official policy of the All Progressives Congress (APC) federal government.”
Addressing newsmen, Chairman, Board of Trustees (BoT) of HURIDE, Dede Uzor A. Uzor, averred that the Minister “has outlived his usefulness and has nothing to offer Nigeria again except deceptive and chronic lies.”
If his recent utterances that Nigerian youths are happy with this administration were anything to go by, “then, it is clear that Mohammed is not in tune with the realities in the country,” Uzor added, noting that imposing N3m fine on private television stations in the country for showing the footage of the shooting of defenceless youths at Lekki Tollgate by persons believed to be soldiers of the Nigerian Army, was undemocratic and despotic.
The HURIDE boss said the fine and threat by the Muhammadu Buhari Administration to regulate the social media were all deliberate and calculated attempts to muzzle the media from prying into the anti-people policies of the government.
Uzor, therefore, called on the Minister and the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) to, as a matter of urgency, rescind the obnoxious fine placed on Channel television, AIT, and Arise television stations.
Frowning at Muhammed’s seeming insistence on regulating social media, Uzor argued that the federal government under Buhari had become increasingly despotic and paranoid about the media, stressing that such stance could only be adopted by a government unwilling to let the world scrutinize its democratic credentials for fear its anti-democratic tendencies would be exposed.
“But it negates the constitution of the country to abridge the free speech,” Uzor declared. “It will never see the light of the day. We will mobilise democratic forces to pull down their antics when the time comes.”
Advising the federal government to offer what he called “good governance” to the people of Nigeria, “instead of the current mediocre, ethnic, religious governance,” Dede Uzor called on international media organisations, the Nigerrian Union of Journalists (NUJ), the Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE) and similar journalists’ unions in the country and around the world, to not only condemn the “federal government’s general despotic dispositions” but also, perhaps even more stridently, “attempts by Lai Mohammed to muscle the press, in addition to his other inglorious activities.”