Jonathan Criticizes Clampdown On Free Speech In Nigeria

Former President Goodluck Jonathan
Former President Goodluck Jonathan

Former President Goodluck Jonathan has criticized the perceived clampdown on freedom of expression by the government in power, and called on Nigerians to continue to support democratic governance.

He said this during a dinner organized by the Nigerian Lawyers Association in the United States of America.

The former president also urged Nigerian legal practitioners in the country and in the diaspora to also contribute to the development and strengthening of the country’s institutions.

He said: “Under my watch not a single Nigerian was sent to prison because of anything they wrote or said about me or the administration that I headed.

“Nigeria had neither political prisoners nor political exile under my administration.”

There has been an increase in the arrest and detention of citizens, journalists and bloggers, with regards to statements perceived by security agencies as being critical of the government.

Governor Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia State once admitted to plotting the arrest of Emenike Iroegbu, a blogger and indigene of the state.

Also In Katsina, a blogger was arrested and detained for 22 days for posts criticizing the administration of Governor Aminu Masari.

In Kaduna, Akwa Ibom and FCT, there had been reports of arrests and detention of bloggers for allegedly spreading false information about the government in power.

Jonathan pointed out that his administration made appreciable efforts to promote transparency and accountability.

“We enacted the Freedom of Information Act and by that we tore the veil of secrecy covering governance,” he said.

“We gave institutions unlimited freedom and ensured that the NBA, other professional institutions were devoid of any governmental influence.

“We ensured that appointments to INEC were not based on personal relationships,” he added.

The former president also advised that all government’s action must be carried out with respect for Nigeria’s diversity.

He pointed out that during his time as president, cabinet members were selected to reflect the diversity of Nigeria, adding that no leader should exploit the country’s fault lines.

“Diversity could remain a strength only when all interest groups in the society feel safe and secure.






     

     

    “Most of my principal aides in government hailed from different ethnic nationalities.

    “We never placed ethno-religious interests above merits or individual values when making decisions.

    “Nigeria is for all Nigerians. We must resist the push of ego that may make us want to pursue a regional or narrow agenda,” he said.

    Though Jonathan did not make any direct reference to the Muhammadu Buhari-led government, not a few Nigerians are inferring that already, some even predicting the former president may soon be arrested.

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