The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, SERAP has blasted the National Broadcasting Commission NBC for fining Channels TV, AIT and Arise TV over their coverage of the #EndSARS protests.
“condemned the 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, had stated during a press conference in Abuja today that the agency has fined Channels Television, Arise Television and Africa Independent Television 3million naira each for what it described as “unprofessional coverage” of the #EndSARS protests.
Meanwhile, the human rights group who condemned the act by the commission has described the fine as unconstitutional and illegal. While reacting in a statement SERAP’s deputy director Kolawole Oluwadare said: “This action by the NBC is yet another example of Nigerian authorities’ push to silence independent media and voices. NBC should drop the fines and uphold the 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 We will sue the NBC if the unconstitutional fines are not rescinded within 48 hours.”
“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 NBC must immediately withdraw the decision.”
Part of the statement reads thus: “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.”