The Federal Government says it has nothing to do with the recent arrest of Mr Dapo Olorunyomi, Publisher of the online newspaper, Premium Times, and a reporter working for the paper, Ms Evelyn Okakwu.
On the arrest of Premium Time’s Publisher, government position is contained in a statement issued on Tuesday in Abuja by the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed.
The minister said that the whole issue of the journalists’ arrest was purely a private affair involving a citizen and a privately-owned newspaper. He wondered how that could now be construed as an attempt by the government to intimidate the press. The minister reassured that government would not do anything to stifle press freedom, because it is keenly aware that a free press is vital to the success of any democracy.
“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,’’ he said.
The publisher of Premium Times, Mister Dapo Olorunyomi, who was arrested on Thursday evening by the police, has been released. Mr Olorunyomi was released alongside the company’s judiciary correspondent, Evelyn Okakwu, who was also arrested. They were said to have been released on bail and asked to report at the FCT police command headquarters by 8:00 a.m. on Friday.
Plain-clothed officers were said to have conducted search at the Abuja office of the organisations, saying they were acting on a complaint filed by the Nigerian Army.
The arrests came days after premium times turned down the army’s demand to retract news stories about it and its operations.