The Online Publishers Association of Nigeria on Saturday denied meeting with the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed.
OPAN comprise an executive body including Olufemi Awoyemi, who is the President, Austyn Ogannah who is the First Vice President, Emmanuel Asiwe, who is the Second Vice President, Daniel Elombah, who is the Legal Adviser, and Ms. Biola Adebola, who is the Executive Secretary.
The Minister had reportedly met with online publishers on Friday with a promise that the Federal Government would not muzzle or gag their operations.
But in a statement on Saturday, OPAN dissociated itself from the meeting and debunked “the impression being created that the Honourable Minister of Information, Alhaji Lai Muhammed, met with Online Publishers of Nigeria (OPAN) as widely reported in print and online media outlets in the last few days.
“While we recognise the right of the Ministry of Information and indeed the whole communication structure of the government to engage with all media practitioners of all genres, we believe that engagements should be with titles and their designated representatives.
“An association of professionals created to ensure standards has the fundamental responsibility to remain fair, objective and balanced both in its conduct and engagements in a manner that ensures its mandate remains that of its industry and members.”
The association said it believes that the meeting Lai Mohammed held was held with a group of online practitioners who had sought registration but was asked by the Corporate Affairs Commission to drop the use of its name as it conflicted with OPAN, the pioneers.
“This group later amended its name, and is still being promoted as a private project by a Special Adviser in the Presidency.
“This propaganda-premised platform is now being represented as the industry. This is not the case and the members of the public are advised to be aware.
“For obvious reasons, the senior aide in the presidency has refused to recognise and engage with OPAN even where obvious structures are in place and all processes observed.
“We advise that the generic use of the word ‘meeting with online publishers in Nigeria’ by a government that is yet to recognise the role, place and value of online publishing in our extant laws is dubious at best,” the association said.