In an alleged move to silence media firms, the National Broadcasting Commission has fined Channels Television, AIT and Arise TV over alleged ethical default in reportage during the #EndSARS protests and the #lekkitollgatemassacre.
NBC Acting Director-General, Prof Armstrong Idachaba, disclosed the news of the fine at a press conference in Abuja on Monday said the affected media houses were fined N3,000,000 each for flouting the provisions of the Nigerian broadcasting code.
He warned that any station that continued to broadcast hate and inciting comments that threaten the security of the country would be shut down.
Meanwhile, The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has condemned the move, dubbing it unconstitutional.
Reacting, SERAP in a statement by its deputy director Kolawole Oluwadare said: “This action by the NBC is yet another example of Nigerian authorities’ push to silence independent media and voices. The NBC should drop the fines and uphold Nigerian constitution and international obligations to respect and protect freedom of expression and media freedom. We will sue the NBC if the unconstitutional fines are not rescinded within 48 hours.”
The organisation said: “This is a new low in Nigeria’s protection of freedom of expression, and the ability of independent media to function in the country. The fines are detrimental to media freedom, and access to information, and the NBC must immediately withdraw the decision.”
The statement, read in part: “Media freedom and media plurality are a central part of the effective exercise of freedom of expression and access to information. The ability to practice journalism free from undue interference, to cover peaceful protests, and critical views are crucial to the exercise of many other rights and freedoms.”
“The media has a vital role to play as ‘public watchdog’ in imparting information of serious public concern and should not be inhibited or intimidated from playing that role. The NBC should stop targeting and intimidating independent media and voices.”
“President Muhammadu Buhari should caution the NBC to stop intimidating and harassing independent media houses and to respect the Nigerian Constitution 1999 [as amended] and the country’s international human rights obligations, including under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights.”