Former Vice President, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar and top aspirant of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) for the 2023 Presidential election has described journalists as critical stakeholders in the nation that cannot be overlooked, while assuring that he would investigate alleged barring of media practitioners from his visits to some North Central states.
Atiku expressed this in a statement signed by his SA Youth and Support Groups, Ambassador Aliyu Bin Abbas, made available to newsmen in Kaduna on Tuesday.
“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.
“He said that he was not aware of the separate incidents, allegedly done by security operatives in both states,” Ambassador Abbas said.
He explained that a security personnel of the presidential aspirant just brought it to his notice that some security personnel barred journalists in Makurdi from covering his visit to see 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 explained.
His SA Youth and Support Groups said that his principal has always been an advocate of press freedom and has promoted the media industry in Nigeria in several ways, including setting up of media outfits, where thousands of journalists are gainfully employed.
He however, vowed to investigate the matter, while assuring journalists that henceforth, he has ordered that they are granted unrestricted access to him at public functions, once they can identify themselves and the media they work for.