NGE, SERAP, PDP fault NBC’s sanction on Channels Tv

Channels Tv

The Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE), Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), and the opposition political party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) yesterday condemned the sanctions imposed on Channels Tv by the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC).

NGE said it condemned in strong terms the threat issued to the television station by the NBC over an interview with the spokesperson of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) Mr. Emmanuel Powerful.

Powerful had featured on Channels programme “Politics Today” on Sunday, April 25, 2021, where he allegedly made inciting statements.

The NBC in the letter ordered the immediate suspension of the programme.

SERAP has urged the Federal Government and NBC to immediately reverse the suspension of Channels Television and imposition of N5 million fine on the station for breaching the broadcast code.

SERAP in a statement yesterday by its deputy Director Kolawole Oluwadare said: “The suspension of Channels Television is unconstitutional, illegal, arbitrary, and without any legal basis whatsoever. The government and NBC should immediately lift the suspension and reverse the fine. We will pursue appropriate legal action if the arbitrary, unconstitutional and illegal suspension and fine are not reversed within 48 hours.”

SERAP said: “This action by the government and NBC is yet another example of Nigerian authorities’ push to silence independent media and voices.

The government and NBC lift the suspension and uphold the Nigerian Constitution 1999 (as amended) and international obligations to respect and protect freedom of expression and media freedom.

PDP also described as draconian, the reported suspension and fine of N5 million slammed by NBC on Channels Television over alleged violation of broadcasting code.

NGE, in a statement said: “Press freedom is threatened when media houses are made to operate in an atmosphere of fear.

“The Guild stands with Channels and will go to any length to defend press freedom in the country.

“The body of editors believes that the NBC is guilty of double standards because stations that carried Sheikh Gumi’s parley with terrorists in their camps, were not sanctioned by the commission.

“The NBC should jettison the practice of issuing threats to broadcast stations over matters that could easily be dealt with through dialogue.

“Democracy will be meaningless in Nigeria if press freedom is eroded.”

The PDP said without prejudice to the issues raised against Channels Television, the reported hasty clamp down, without the benefit of caution, was suggestive of intolerance and high-handedness by the regulatory body.

“Our party is worried that such disposition could be counter-productive and heighten the already tensed situation in our nation at this critical time.

“The PDP therefore urges the NBC to review the punitive measure on the media house as well as scale up system-friendly measure that will ensure best practices in information dissemination in our country”, the party said.

SERAP’s statement read in part: “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 suspension of Channels Television is detrimental to media freedom, and access to information, and the Federal Government and NBC must immediately reverse 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 diverse 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 Federal Government and NBC should stop targeting and intimidating independent media and voices.”

“The government of President Buhari has a responsibility to protect Nigerians’ rights to freedom of expression and access to information.”

“This suspension amounts to an arbitrary and unjust application of regulations against the media. International standards allow only official restrictions on the content of what the media can broadcast or print in extremely narrow circumstances.”

“Article 20 (2) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which Nigeria has ratified requires states to prohibit only advocacy that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence. Restrictions must be clearly defined, specific, necessary, and proportionate to the threat to interest protected.”

“President Muhammadu Buhari should caution the NBC to stop intimidating and harassing independent media houses and to respect the Nigerian Constitution, 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.”

“The Guild will not stand by and watch media houses being threatened by regulatory agencies in the country.

“Press freedom is threatened when media houses are made to operate in an atmosphere of fear .

“The Guild stands with Channels and will go to any length to defend press freedom in the country.

The body of editors believes that the NBC is guilty of double standards because stations that carried Sheikh Gumi’s parley with terrorists in their camps, were not sanctioned by the commission.

“The NBC should jettison the practice of issuing threats to broadcast stations over matters that could easily be dealt with through dialogue.

“Democracy will be meaningless in Nigeria if press freedom is eroded,” NGE said in a statement.

SERAP urged the Federal Government and NBC to immediately reverse the suspension of Channels Tv and imposition of N5 million fine on the station for breaching the broadcast code.

SERAP in a statement yesterday by its deputy Director Kolawole Oluwadare said: “The suspension of Channels Television is unconstitutional, illegal, arbitrary, and without any legal basis whatsoever. The government and NBC should immediately lift the suspension and reverse the fine. We will pursue appropriate legal action if the arbitrary, unconstitutional and illegal suspension and fine are not reversed within 48 hours.”

SERAP said: “This action by the government and NBC is yet another example of Nigerian authorities’ push to silence independent media and voices. The government and NBC lift the suspension and uphold the Nigerian Constitution 1999 (as amended) and international obligations to respect and protect freedom of expression and media freedom.

Also, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) also described as draconian, the reported suspension and fine of N5 million slammed by the NBC on the television station.

It said without prejudice to the issues raised against the television station, the reported hasty clamp down, without the benefit of caution, was suggestive of intolerance and high-handedness by the regulatory body.

“Our party is worried that such disposition could be counter-productive and heighten the already tensed situation in our nation at this critical time.

“The PDP therefore urges the NBC to review the punitive measure on the media house as well as scale up system-friendly measure that will ensure best practices in information dissemination in our country”, the party said.

SERAP’s statement read in part: “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 suspension of Channels Television is detrimental to media freedom, and access to information, and the Federal Government and NBC must immediately reverse 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 diverse 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 Federal Government and NBC should stop targeting and intimidating independent media and voices.”

“The government of President Buhari has a responsibility to protect Nigerians’ rights to freedom of expression and access to information.”

“This suspension amounts to an arbitrary and unjust application of regulations against the media. International standards allow only official restrictions on the content of what the media can broadcast or print in extremely narrow circumstances.”

“Article 20 (2) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which Nigeria has ratified requires states to prohibit only advocacy that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence. Restrictions must be clearly defined, specific, necessary, and proportionate to the threat to interest protected.”

“President Muhammadu Buhari should caution the NBC to stop intimidating and harassing independent media houses and to respect the Nigerian Constitution, 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.”