Nigeria

Nigerian government reiterates commitment to rule of law, free press

The Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr Abubakar Malami, SAN,

The federal government on Tuesday reiterated its commitment to the rule of law, just as it vowed to pursue all legitimate efforts that will bring to an end the issue of impunity for crime in all ramifications.

The Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Mr Abubakar Malami (SAN), who reiterated the position of the government, said the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration recognizing the crucial role the rule of law plays in any democracy, has introduced various reforms that has shown up the image of Nigeria in the international community.

Malami spoke in Abuja, at a one-day policy dialogue organized to commemorate the 2021 International Day to End Impunity for Crimes Against Journalists.

According to him, before the advent of the present administration, Nigeria ranked between 12th and 13th across the globe and used to be among the top three African countries with impunity for crimes against journalists only after Somalia and South Sudan.

“Recent developments in Nigeria proved that the federal government has laudable initiatives to end impunity for crimes against Nigerian journalists. The laudable achievement recorded could not be unattributed to deliberate and committed efforts of the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration through the implementation of many reforms in the Nigerian justice sector; to include increased access to justice, speedy justice dispensation, decongestion of Nigeria’s correctional centres and judicious implementation of the Criminal Justice Act and justice sector reforms.

“The Federal Government of Nigeria has taken steps in advancing the rule of law, application of human rights, enhancing the freedom of information and by implication freedom of the press, as well as the administration of criminal justice. In addition to the implementation of the Freedom of Information Act, prominent among recent legislation by the present administration included Public Interest Disclosure and Witness Protection Bill (2017), Whistle Blower Protection Policy, Open Government Partnership and the vigorous fight against corruption. In each of these legislations and policies, the media and by implication, journalists remain critical stakeholders,” he said.

Malami added that as the chief law officer of the country, he is determined to uphold the constitutionally saddled responsibility of ensuring strict adherence to the rule of law and bringing to an end the issue of impunity for crime in all ramifications.

“It is against this backdrop that the Federal Government of Nigeria through the Office of the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice plans to join the international community to commemorate International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists by organizing this policy dialogue among stakeholders.

“I am convinced that journalism is not a crime. Rather, there are apparent crimes committed by some people that claim to practise journalism. Journalists are not in any way targeted for a witch-hunt. It is essential to note that Nigeria operates a constitutional democracy that guarantees freedom of expression thereby providing conducive atmosphere and veritable platforms that enable Nigerians their inalienable fundamental rights to unhindered ventilation of opinions,” he added.

While stating that the federal government has provided an enabling environment for journalism to thrive, he called on journalists to refrain from fake news, defamation, sedition, hate speech, blasphemy, incitement of inflammatory statements in their reportage that could jeopardize the cooperate existence of the nation and hamper the peace been enjoyed so far.

“The disposition of the courageous journalists going into battlegrounds to keep us informed requires greater appreciation and the government of President Muhammadu Buhari will continue to accord you desired protection,” he added.

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