The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed has distanced the government from the recent arrest of the Publisher of Premium Times and one of its reporters.
Mr Dapo Olorunyomi, Publisher of the online newspaper and the judicial reporter, Ms. Evelyn Okakwu were arrested last week by the police.
The government and the police received knocks for the arrest, which many said was an attempt by the government to gag the media.
But Information minister in a statement on Tuesday absolved the government, saying that the current administration was keenly aware of the importance of a free press to the success of any democracy and so would not do anything to stifle the media.
According to him: “The Federal Government will not do anything to stifle press freedom because it is keenly aware that a free press is vital to the success of any democracy.”
He explained that “the whole issue of the journalists’ arrest is purely a private affair involving a citizen and a privately-owned newspaper, and wondered how that could now be construed as an attempt by the government to intimidate the press.
”We have said it before and we want to re-state it: The Federal Government has no immediate or long-term plan to stifle press freedom. Even the Social Media, with its warts and all, will neither be regulated nor have its operations tampered with,” the minister assured Nigerians.