Federal Government to sue Daily Trust over false report on ‘SAMOA Agreement’

FG,Daily Trust

The Federal Government under President Bola Ahmed Tinubu has maintained an open arm relationship with the media. It is in line with the philosophy of the President as an avowed democrat who spent a lifetime fighting for the entrenchment of democracy and human rights.

This administration has remained very tolerant of media criticism and guaranteed citizens’ rights to freedom of expression. It is however disheartening that some elements are abusing this free environment guaranteed by the Government. We are alarmed by the level of reckless reporting and statements by some media organisations and individuals that border on national security and stability.

While we sometimes view and treat those occasional reporting as part of media’s normal work, we have now seen a pattern that is difficult to be wished away as normal journalism.

The insidious and inciting publications by the Daily Trust these past months have come across as nothing but a deliberate effort to brush the government with a tar. On many occasions we have restrained ourselves from believing that this was the case but the consistency of the jejune and mischievous publications leaves us with no option.

In the aftermath of the coup in Niger Republic, Daily Trust championed a jaundiced narrative that the Federal Government was driving the country into a war and twisted it with regional sentiment to cause disaffectionThe same newspaper gave a banner headline to a baseless accusation that the Government was working on citing foreign military bases in the country. Neither Daily Trust nor originators of that imaginative allegation provided any shred of evidence.

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Then just two weeks ago, Daily Trust concocted and popularised a lie that the Federal Government had renamed the Murtala Mohammed Expressway in Abuja to Wole Soyinka Way. In all those instances all that the paper depended on were falsehood and hearsays. They also showed no remorse or the humility to recant.

We however did not envisage that Daily Trust and people behind it could decend to the reckless level of attempting to set the country on fire by falsely accusing the government of signing a deal to promote LGBTQWe found that despicable and wicked because the allegation is nowhere in the document signed. Surprisingly, the paper put forward no evidence nor provided the agreement allegedly signed to prove their point.

The baseless and sensational story unfortunately formed a basis for khutba (sermons) by some of our respected imams who were misled by the story thereby raising tempers.

On the part of the Government, we continue on the honourable path of civility by restraining ourselves from taking self-help or draconian measures. While past governments clamped down on the media for infractions much lower than this, we are however toeing the path of civility and the rule of law.

This afternoon, I have the Honourable Minister of Budget and National Planning to provide more clarity on this issue.

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But beyond this, the Federal Government is lodging a formal complaint to the NPAN Ombudsman on this irresponsible reporting.

In addition, the Federal Government will use every lawful means to seek redress in the court of law.

The Federal Government once again restates its friendly policy towards ethical media and free speech. We would however not take fake news and disinformation that would injure the peace of our country and it’s national security lightly.

We once again thank you for your support and cooperation.

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