Samoa Agreement: Why we are dragging Daily Trust to court – FG

The Federal Government says it will drag the Daily Trust Newspapers to the Newspapers Proprietors Association of Nigeria(NPAN) over its publication on the Samoa agreement.

Mr Mohammed Idris, Minister of Information and National Orientation, who gave this hint on Saturday in Abuja, said that government would also approach the court over the report he described as “fake and mischievous.”

The News Agency of Nigeria(NAN) reports that the information minister spoke at a press conference to react to the report believed to have the potential to spark up religious and social tensions in the country.

NAN also reports that Idris addressed the press along with his budget and planning counterpart, Malam Atiku Bagudu.

In the report, the medium had claimed that the Federal Government had signed an agreement with clauses requiring Nigeria to endorse the rights of Lesbians, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and Intersex(LGBTQI+) people.

It also said that Nigeria would collect 150 billion dollars for endorsing the deal.

The said agreement, generally referred to as the Samoa agreement, was signed at the Organisation of Africa, Caribbean and Pacific States(OACPS) Secretariat in Brussels, Belgium, on June 28.

Details of the agreement indicated that the partnership is between the European Union and its member states on one hand, and members of OACPCS on the other.

Negotiations on the agreement began in 2018 and was signed on Nov. 15, 2018 by all 27 EU member-states and 47 of the 79 OACPS states.

The African Regional Protocol on the matter consists of two parts – framework for cooperation and areas of cooperation that include inclusive and sustainable economic growth, environmental and human rights protection, among others.

Reacting to the medium’s report on the matter, the minister described it as gross falsehood.

He said it followed a pattern that Daily Trust had become used to since the Bola Tinubu administration came on board.

While noting that Tinubu had maintained a good relationship with the media in line with his philosophy as an avowed democrat, he said it was “disheartening that some elements are abusing this free environment guaranteed by the government.”

“We are alarmed by the level of reckless reporting and statements by some media organisations and individuals that border on national security and stability.

“While we sometimes view and treat those occasional reporting as part of media’s normal work, we have now seen a pattern that is difficult to be wished away as normal journalism.

“The insidious and inciting publications by the Daily Trust these past months have come across as nothing but a deliberate effort to brush the government with a tar.

“On many occasions, we have restrained ourselves from believing that this was the case but the consistency of the mischievous publications leaves us with no option.

“In the aftermath of the coup in Niger Republic, Daily Trust championed a jaundiced narrative that the Federal Government was driving the country into a war and twisted it with regional sentiment to cause disaffection.

“The same newspaper gave a banner headline to a baseless accusation that the Government was working on siting foreign military bases in the country.

” Neither Daily Trust nor originators of that imaginative allegation provided any shred of evidence.

“Then just two weeks ago, Daily Trust concocted and popularised a lie that the Federal Government had renamed the Murtala Mohammed Expressway in Abuja to Wole Soyinka Way.

“In all those instances, all that the paper depended on were falsehood and hearsays. They also showed no remorse or the humility to recant.

“We, however, did not envisage that Daily Trust and people behind it could decend to the reckless level of attempting to set the country on fire by falsely accusing the government of signing a deal to promote LGBTQI.

“We found that despicable and wicked because the allegation is nowhere in the document signed.

“Surprisingly, the paper put forward no evidence nor provided the agreement allegedly signed to prove their point.

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“The baseless and sensational story unfortunately formed a basis for khutba (sermons), by some of our respected imams who were misled by the story, thereby raising tempers,” he said.

He said, however, that government would continue to toe the path of civility by restraining itself from seeking self-help or adopting draconian measures.

“While past governments clamped down on the media for infractions much lower than this, we are, however, toeing the path of civility and the rule of law,” he said.

The minister said that the Federal Government would drag the medium to the NPAN Ombudsman “on this irresponsible reporting.”

In addition, the Federal Government will use every lawful means to seek redress in the court of law, he added.

Idris restated government’s friendly policy toward ethical media and free speech, but warned that it would not accept fake news and disinformation that could injure the peace of the nation and hurt national security.(NAN)

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