How NBC allowed itself to be used as a tool against broadcasting stations.

By Suru Charles

The leadership of the Media Rights Agenda (MRA), has aligned its weight to that of the International Press Centre (IPC) to call on the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) to as a matter of urgency rescind its decision to impose fines on N5 million each on some media organizations.

The media organizations were alleged to have undermined Nigeria’s national security by carrying documentaries on banditry in Nigeria.

It would be recalled that the NBC on August 3, 2022, in a statement announced the imposition of sanctions of N5 million each on Multichoice Nigeria Limited, owners of DSTV, TelCo Satellite Limited (TSTV) and NTA Startime Limited for carrying a documentary by the BBC Africa Eye titled “Bandits Worldlords of Zamfara”.

The Commission, was also observed to have also fined Trust TV Network Limited N5 million for its documentary titled: “Nigeria’s Banditry- The Inside Story”.

Piqued by the sanctions, the MRA in a statement yesterday made available to our Taraba state correspondent by its programme director Ayode Longe, the NBC’s action, as opined by him, is “unconstitutional and repressive” threatening to take legal action against the Commission if the measures are not immediately reversed.

Media Rights Agenda (MRA)
Media Rights Agenda (MRA)

He said, “we have no doubt that the decision to sanction the platforms and television station was actually taken by the federal government and is being enforced through NBC in an effort to punish them for portraying the government in a bad light as it is clear that the government is embarrassed by its inability to address the challenges posed by the so called bandits to the safety and security of Nigerians and members of the public at large.”

He said, “It is our view that the reporting by the television station and the platforms is consistent with the role assigned to the media by Section 22 of the Nigerian Constitution to uphold the responsibility and accountability of the government to the people”.

Read Also: NBC imposes N5m fine each on DSTV, TSTV, NTA, Trust TV over documentary on banditry

He added that “in this case, with respect to the security and welfare of the people. It is ironic that while the government regularly dialogues with the so-called bandits and pays them obscene amounts in cash as ransom, thereby enabling their activities further, it has chosen to sanction media platforms for merely reporting on the bandits and the security challenges that they pose to citizens.”

Longe who went ahead to criticise NBC for allowing itself to be used by the Federal Government “as a tool for the censorship of broadcasters and broadcast platforms when it should be playing the role of an independent regulatory authority in accordance with internationally established norms and standards for media regulators” urged them to as a matter of urgency desist from such acts.

Stressing that “We find it abhorrent that the NBC is once again the lawmaker, the accuser, the prosecutor, the judge and the enforcer, all at the same time, contrary to the well-established principle of law that no one should be a judge in his own cause” he felt sad that “It is even more repugnant that the NBC has accused the broadcast station and platforms of offences which constitute crimes under our laws and has proceeded to find them guilty of these crimes, thereby usurping the function of the courts under our Constitution.”

Rather than going about licking federal government boots, NBC, as suggested by the organization, should “seek appropriate guidance in the performance of its functions as the regulatory authority for broadcasting in Nigeria in order to stop bringing Nigeria into ridicule before the international community.”

Earlier, IPC in a press statement made available to The Trumpet in Taraba, through its Executive Director, Lanre Arogundade, expressed dismay that the “Federal Government through the NBC has shamefully done that, forgetting that in a democracy the basic tenets of the rule of law cannot be trampled upon as it suits the whims and caprices of those in the corridors of power.”

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