The Northern Media Forum (NMF) has urged Media Trust Limited, publishers of the Daily Trust titles, not to be discouraged by the recent invasion of its offices in Abuja, Lagos and Maiduguri by armed soldiers.
The Chairman of the forum, Mr. Dan Agbese, who led other members on a solidarity visit to the Media Trust headquarters in Abuja yesterday, said the invasion was unfortunate and unexpected.
“There are ways things like this can be resolved and you don’t have to show force because if you show force, you create problems. It is very sad that we have some elements in the military who believe that force is the way to go and that they have absolute right or absolute freedom to assault the only freedom that everybody in the world is entitled to-freedom of speech and of the press, but if you assault that freedom, every other kind of freedom is assaulted.
“It is an assault on freedom of association and we feel very sad because this is the second time this thing has happened. The first one they said they were searching for some materials being conveyed in the distribution vans, some theory that nobody had ever heard. I had never heard that sort of thing before, how someone can contrive to do that assuming the right to dictate how things should be done,” Agbese said.
According to him, the development is a challenge to all and must be confronted.
“We stood up against them before and we must continue to stand up against them,” he said.
“Last year, 260 journalists throughout the world were murdered, not for committing crimes but for doing their jobs and so the danger is always there and some of us will have to make sacrifices so that those coming behind us can enjoy the freedom that we are fighting for. If you were intimidated in the past, you would not have gone to this extent. It is not the time now for you to feel jittery about anything so long as you believe in what you’re doing so long as your reports are accurate and your comments are fair,” he added. The Director General of No Sidon Look (NSL), a youth civil society organisation, Mr. Potrait Peterson, at a news conference, also urged Media Trust to be steadfast in the discharge of its responsibilities to the nation.
He urged Uthman Abubakar and Ibrahim Sawab, the two Media Trust employees who were arrested and later released by soldiers in Maiduguri, to be steadfast as Nigerian youths remained behind them and their employers.
Responding, the Editor-in-Chief/CEO of Media Trust Limited, Mallam Mannir Dan Ali, said Media Trust remained committed to continuing what it is doing and would not be intimidated in any way.
“As a company, we are considering our options, the harassment has not actually stopped, and we have support both locally and internationally. But, this one that you came to our office as a group is most gratifying and it makes us stronger, meaning that we are not alone. So, I don’t think the might of the military is actually enough to cow us and we will continue to do our best,” he said.