As SERAP gives the Govt 48-hours to reverse the decision or risk legal actions
by Edward Etuka
The Global Center for Media and Human Empowerment (GCMHE)has condemned the recent pronouncement by the National Broadcasting Corporation(NBC). “We condemned the draconian and illegal fines of N9m reportedly imposed by the National Broadcasting Commission [NBC] on Channels TV, AIT and Arise TV [N3m each] purportedly over their coverage of the #EndSARS protests.
” The acting Director-General of the NBC, Prof. Armstrong Idachaba, announced at a press conference in Abuja on Monday that the agency has fined Channels Television, Arise Television and Africa Independent Television for what it termed “unprofessional coverage” of the #EndSARS protests.
Reacting, GCMHE in a statement by its Ag.Director-General,Charles Ejoh said: “This action by the NBC is yet another move by the Nigerian government led by president Muhammadu Buhari to stifle the media.
The Media and Human Rights Advocacy Group have directed the NBC to drop the fines and adhere to the Nigerian constitution and international conventions to respect and protect freedom of expression and media freedom. We will no longer tolerate the blatant abuse of power by the Ag.Director-General, Prof.Armstrong Idachaba .
” The organization said: “This is an affront on the part of the NBC to reduce the media to a toothless bull dog.We are joining forces with other true progressives in the country to outrightly reject that decision .Instead of commending the media for its professional conduct and courage in the midst of security threat to lives during the the height of the the #ENDSARS Protests that is the gift the NBC is presenting to the media.. The fines are detrimental to media freedom, and access to information and the NBC must immediately rescind its decision.”
The statement, read in part: “Media freedom and the proliferation of media views are a focal components of democracy and in the words of late South African President Nelson Mandela , “to deny people their human rights is to challenge their very humanity . The ability to practice unfettered journalism free from government interference, to report peaceful protests, and critical views are hall mark of democracy.We also use this medium to call on media outfits to be more professional in their reportage while the general public should be wary of fake news purveyors ocassioned by the influx of quacks that have invaded the noble profession of journalism in Nigeria.
Meanwhile, the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project has asked the National Broadcasting Corporation to withdraw the N3m fine imposed on broadcast stations over the coverage of the #ENDSARS protests in the country.
SERAP gave the NBC 48-hours to reverse the decision or risk legal actions.
NBC had fined Arise Television, Channels Television and African Independent Television for their coverage of the protest especially the killing of protesters at Lekki, Lagos, by the Nigerian Army.
The NBC Acting Director-General, Prof Armstrong Idachaba, announced the sanction at a press conference in Abuja on Monday as he also warned that stiffer sanction could follow.
Reacting to the sanction, SERAP in a tweet described as unconstitutional the fine imposed on the media organisations.
The rights group also accused the Nigerian Government of using broadcast regulation to silence independent media.
SERAP said, “We condemn the illegal fines of N9m reportedly imposed by the National Broadcasting Commission on Channels TV, AIT and Arise TV (N3m each) over their coverage of the #EndSARS protests.
“We’ll sue the NBC if the unconstitutional fines are not rescinded within 48 hours.
“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.
“The fines are detrimental to freedom of expression and the media, and access to information in Nigeria, and the NBC must withdraw the decision.
“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.”
Recall that in a censorship move, the NBC had warned all broadcast stations not to report the #ENDSARS protest in a way that would embarrass the government.