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Buhari not restricting press freedom – Presidency

President Muhammadu Buhari is resolutely committed to press freedom and his administration will ensure that media personnel in the country discharge their duties without let or hindrance.

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The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Mallam Shehu Garba said this in a statement late Thursday night.

Shehu said it was very uncharitable for anyone or group to suggest otherwise or infer that Buhari was in support of restrictions on freedom of expression and the media.

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He stated: "On the issue of the arrest and continued detention of Mr Jones Abiri, who allegedly parades himself as a journalist, by the Department of the State Services (DSS), it is instructive to note that the accused is a guest of the security agency because of his alleged involvement in militant and criminal activities.

Admittedly, the issue of Mr Abiri had been brought to the attention of the Presidency by the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ).

"As a true believer in the rule of law and the integral role of the media in a democracy, the Presidency did interface with the security agency involved in the matter and our findings confirmed that the suspect is in custody because of alleged involvement in pipeline vandalism and theft. 

"Mr Abiri is not a registered journalist with any of the media professional bodies in the country. There is no evidence of his belonging to any chapel or membership of the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ) or payment of the union’s check-off dues.

"Abiri’s stock-in-trade and notoriety in the liberalised Nigeria media industry include fronting as a spokesman for militants engaged in economic sabotage in the Niger Delta region.

"The Buhari administration will continue to promote the freedom and safety of journalists and will do nothing untoward to damage the credibility it has demonstrated in promoting press freedom since coming into power in 2015."

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