Veteran journalist and former Minister of Information and Culture, Prince Tony Momoh has died at the age of 81.
But he was said to have died at a private hospital in Abuja on Monday.
Momoh, the Yerima of Auchi Kingdom, was Minister of Information and Culture (1986–1990) during the military regime of General Ibrahim Babangida.
Momoh was born on 27 April, 1939 in Auchi, Edo State. He was the 165th child of King Momoh I of Auchi. He attended Government School Auchi (1949–1954) and Anglican School Okpe (1954). Momoh was Pupil Teacher at the Anglican School, Auchi (January–December 1955) and Headmaster at the Anglican School, Ubuneke, Ivbiaro, Owan Local Government (January 1958 – December 1959).
He went to the Provincial Teachers Training College, Abudu, Edo State and Government Teachers College, Abraka in Western Region (1960–1961).
Later, while working at the Daily Times or on sabbatical, he attended the University of Nigeria, Nsukka (September 1964 – October 1966) where he earned a degree in Mass communication, and then the University of Lagos where he studied Law. He attended the Nigerian Law School, Lagos (October 1974 – May 1975), and was called to the bar in June 1975.
Momoh started his journalism career as a sub-editor at the Daily Times in October 1962, rising steadily through the ranks to become Editor and deputy general manager (June 1976 – May 1980). In June 1979, during the lead-up to the transition from military to civilian rule at the start of the Second Nigerian Republic, Momoh said of the five presidential candidates: “They are all the same … It’s going to turn into a personality contest”.
In 1981 the Senate led by Joseph Wayas summoned Momoh for contempt. This caused a major legal battle in which Momoh successfully argued that as a journalist he was empowered by the constitution to hold government accountable at all times.
In Tony Momoh v. Speaker, House of Representatives (1982) it was held that a person had the right to refuse to disclose their source of information. However, in Senate v. Tony Momoh (1983) the Court of Appeals held that the press is not a fourth arm of government. A newspaper publisher has no special immunity and the press can be ordered to disclose its sources in some cases.
Momoh was general manager of the Times from June 1984 to Sept 1986.
He was Chairman of the board of directors of Nigerian Airways from 1991 to 1993.
He was appointed a Member of the Edo State Economic Advisory Committee in 1991, and a member of the Nigerian Press Council in December 1992.
In January 2011 Momoh was appointed Chairman of the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) in the lead-up to the April 2011 national elections, with Buba Galadima appointed the National Secretary.