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Report on Samoa Agreement: Our position

The Management of Media Trust Group, owners of Daily Trust, Trust TV and Trust Radio, has reacted to the threat of the Federal Government to…

The Management of Media Trust Group, owners of Daily Trust, Trust TV and Trust Radio, has reacted to the threat of the Federal Government to sue the publication over a report on Samoa agreement.

At a media briefing in Abuja, on Saturday, Mohammed Idris, Minister of Information, had described the report on the agreement as “baseless and sensational”.

He also accused Daily Trust of attempting to set the country on fire, saying an issue not as severe as such made other governments clamped down on the media.

“On the part of the Government, we continue on the honourable path of civility by restraining ourselves from taking self-help or 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.”

“The Federal Government is lodging a formal complaint 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 had said.

But responding in a statement signed by Maryam Aminu Bello, Esq, the Company Secretary/Legal Adviser, Media Trust Group, the newspaper said, “Two ministers of government, and other sundry commentators have taken us to the cleaners over our story on the Samoa Agreement in particular, and some other reports published earlier. We have followed with attention what these government officials said, and left unsaid, and we will publish that in full, for the records. We have also acknowledged lapses in our reporting on this particular matter, pointed out to us by professional colleagues, and we will review and take appropriate measures.

“As our editors understood it, the Samoa Agreement signed by Nigeria has expanded the definition of gender rights, from the traditional male-female, to a new norm, captured by the term LGBTQ (Lesbian; Bi-sexual, Gay, Transgender and Queer). That is the crux of the matter.

“If the agreement does not aim at promoting such new orientation, widely accepted in Western countries, then we are wrong in our interpretation. We will readily apologise both to the government and to the public for crying wolf.

“We expect that those qualified, by training and experience, to make such a judgement, will weigh into the matter and we will as usual, publish all sides in the discussion, including that of the government.

“We wish to add that in this story, as in others over the last 26 years, the Daily Trust tried to be guided by public interest.

“It is also important for us to clarify some of the insinuations by the information minister about other stories that Daily Trust had done. First, the statement that our newspaper had given “a banner headline to a baseless accusation that the Government was working on siting foreign military bases in the country”. Nothing could be further from the truth. We only reported in the Daily Trust of Sunday, 5th May, 2024, details of an open letter by six scholars and activists urging the president and the National Assembly to reject any bid to cite United States of America and French military bases within Nigeria.

“Also, the minister said “Daily Trust concocted and popularised a lie that the Federal Government had renamed the Murtala Muhammed Expressway in Abuja to Wole Soyinka Way”. We did publish two opinion articles in Daily Trust of Wednesday and Saturday, June 12 and 15, 2024, in which the opinion writers raised concerns over alleged renaming of the Murtala Muhammed Way, Abuja, after Wole Soyinka.

“We recall that the information minister’s press statement on that matter, which was issued on the 17th of June, 2024, with the headline “Abuja’s Murtala Muhammed Way NOT Renamed after Soyinka-FG”, was reported generously in our online and offline platforms.

“We wish to reiterate that we are an impartial media outlet. Since 1998, we have operated under six different governments, with the Bola Ahmed Tinubu Administration being the seventh. Throughout this period, we have consistently demonstrated a high level of impartiality in our reportage.”

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