Ruling party says Jonathan has no plan to gag the press.
The Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, on Monday accused the opposition Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN, of trying to use the press as a subterfuge to hide its support for insurgents and to whittle the current efforts by the Federal Government to end acts of terrorism in the country.
The ruling party, which threw its weight behind President Goodluck Jonathan, said contrary to the claims by the ACN, no part of the Presidential Order proscribing terrorists groups, directly or indirectly violated any provision of the constitution or impinged on the freedom of the press in the country.
The party was reacting to a statement by ACN on Sunday alleging the Presidential Order was aimed at gagging the press.
In a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Olisa Metuh, in Abuja, PDP described the allegation by the ACN as not only despicable but a clear indication of how far the opposition party can go to distort facts to support violence and cause disaffection among Nigerians.
“This deliberate distortion of facts clearly betrays ACN’s support for such groups as well as the heinous attempt to whittle efforts by the Federal Government and well-meaning Nigerians to end insurgency in the country,” the PDP said.
Quoting a section of the constitution that supports its rebuttal, the ruling party countered that the ACN is seeking to weaken the fight against the insurgency and has only succeeded in betraying its support for the acts of terrorism.
“Section 5 (1), of the Order which the ACN is kicking against prescribes a term of imprisonment of not less than 20 years ”for any person who knowingly, in any manner, directly or indirectly, solicits or renders support for the commission of an act of terrorism or to a terrorist group.”
“By all indications, it is clear that neither this section nor any other section of the Order for that matter, infringed on the rights of Nigerians and the freedom of the media as guaranteed by the constitution. Rather the section clearly seeks to stop incitements to commit a terrorist acts,” the ruling party said.
The party said it is solidly behind Mr. Jonathan in his efforts to ensure an end to acts of terrorism in the country. It commended the president for the order which it described as a welcome development adding that “those who have nothing to hide need not be afraid”.
It urged Nigerians to continue to go about their legitimate businesses and also as note the activities and interests of parties such as the ACN.