Former Vice President Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, a leading candidate for the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) presidential nomination in 2023, has described journalists as “critical stakeholders” in the country who must not be overlooked, while pledging to look into allegations that media practitioners were barred from his visits to some North Central states.
This is what Atiku said in a statement that was given to journalists in Kaduna on Tuesday by the ambassador for his SA Youth and Support Groups.
“His Excellency, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar was saddened by the reports that some journalists who covered his visits to North Central states of Benue and Plateau were not granted access to him by those at the venues of both visits.”
Ambassador Abbas added,
“He said that he was not aware of the seperate incidents, allegedly done by security operatives in both states.”
He said that one of the presidential candidate’s security staff members had just told him that some security staff in Makurdi had stopped journalists from covering his trip there to meet with stakeholders.
“Our security personnel said he overheard a policeman telling journalists that oga was not there for interviews, but to see delegates. He is however, not sure if the policeman was one attached to the Deputy Governor of Benue State, or one drafted from the state command of the visit”, he stated.
His SA Youth and Support Groups said that his principle has always supported press freedom and has helped the Nigerian media business in many ways, such as by setting up media companies that employ thousands of journalists.
He did, however, promise to look into the situation, promising journalists that they would henceforth have free access to him at public events once they could identify themselves and the media they work for.