Popular rights group, Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), has placed a final notice of 48 hours to the National Broadcasting Commission, NBC, to revoke the fines levelled against AIT, Arise TV, and Channels TV over their press coverage of EndSARS protests.
SERAP “condemned the unconstitutional and illegal fines” of ₦3million, respectively, against the three TV channels; and threatened to sue NBC.
Recall that Obinwannem News had previously reported the announcement, and subsequent placement of fines by the acting Director General of the NBC, Prof. Armstrong Idachaba, during a press conference in Abuja on Monday, against the trio telecasting stations for what it termed “unprofessional coverage” of the anti-police brutality protest.
SERAP in a statement, signed 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“We will sue the NBC if the unconstitutional fines are not rescinded within 48 hours.”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 group further reacted that the development “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.
“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.”
Mazi Ozoemela Chikwas reporting, Obinwannem News