Samoa report: FG to await position of media ombudsman

The federal government has said that it is awaiting the report of the ombudsman, following the complaint it made challenging a report by the Daily Trust on the Samoa Agreement signed by Nigeria.

This was part of the issues discussed at the Federal Executive Council (FEC) Wednesday.

Addressing reporters after Wednesday’s FEC meeting at the Presidential Villa in Abuja, the Minister of Information and National Orientation, Mohammed Idris said: “There was also a discussion on the report by Daily Trust and the position of government on that report is that the federal government insisted that the report was misleading, it was false and designed to create confusion in the land.

“We expect that the industry’s ombudsman will look at the government’s complaint dispassionately and FEC will be patient to await the report of the ombudsman,” Idris said.

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Idris noted that the present administration “believes in the freedom of expression, believes in the role of the media in ensuring that there is continuous and uninterrupted democracy in our land.

“So, the government is not desirous of doing anything that will harm that freedom of expression. But like we have said, where we feel there is an infringement, where we feel that the media itself or a section of it, in this case, Daily Trust has erred, because the government still believes that the report by Daily Trust is not correct, Nigerians have been misinformed, and in the process, a lot of damage has been done on the psyche of our people.

“We have made a complaint to the ombudsman to look at the report and we have sighted examples of where Daily Trust got it wrong so that Daily Trust can come clean and also mention or apologise to the nation and the government”, he said.

Also speaking, the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Lateef Fagbemi, SAN, said: “The disturbing report by Daily Trust is being handled because we are conscious of press freedom, and if you notice this administration has not and will not tamper with press freedom because if you know the President, he has been an ardent supporter and believer in press freedom, in fact that is what got him up to this point.

“He is conscious of that, not only in press freedom but in fundamental human rights as enshrined in the constitution.

“Generally, government MDAs are available if there is any area that members of the Press would like to clear and the Freedom of Information Act is alive and is being rigorously honoured and in operation. So, I will advise that if there is any information that the members of the press require, it should be channelled to the appropriate MDAs before going to press”, he said.

Reps make U-Turn

In a related development, the House of Representatives yesterday made a U-Turn, saying it did not call on the federal government to suspend the implementation of the Samoa Agreement.

The clarification was made by the House spokesman, Akin Rotimi.

Rotimi, who represents Ikole/Oye Federal Constituency, Ekiti State, said that contrary to media reports, lawmakers resolved to investigate controversial clauses in the agreement to ensure that they do not violate the provisions of the 1999 Constitution (as amended).

The All Progressives Congress (APC) lawmaker noted that the House urged the government to engage in widespread consultations and stakeholder engagement concerning the agreement.

He said, “During the debate, concerns were raised regarding alleged clauses purportedly mandating support for the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender community as a prerequisite for financial and other aid from developed nations.

“Additionally, apprehensions were expressed about several specific articles within the agreement, including Articles 2.5, 29.5, 36.2, and 88, which some lawmakers believe may not align with Nigeria’s national interests and values, especially in the absence of a reservation clause.

“Rep Aliyu Sani Madaki had argued that Article 97 of the agreement, which asserts the supremacy of the agreement over any conflicting treaties involving European Union member states or the Organisation of African, Caribbean, and Pacific States, potentially infringes upon Nigeria’s sovereignty.

“In response, House Leader, Julius Ihonvbere (APC, Edo) clarified that the agreement, as officially presented, does not include provisions related to a $150bn fund or any clauses promoting LGBT rights in Nigeria, contrary to public speculation.

“Emphasising the importance of parliamentary oversight, House Minority Leader, Kingsley Chinda (PDP, Rivers) underscored the need for transparency in treaty negotiations, citing Section 12 of the Nigerian Constitution (1999, as amended), which mandates parliamentary involvement in such matters.

“It is important to clarify that the House of Representatives did not resolve to call for the suspension of the agreement nor the suspension of its implementation, as has been erroneously reported by some media houses.

“Instead, the House resolved to thoroughly scrutinise the Samoa Partnership Agreement for all contentious clauses through legislative hearings,” he said.




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