An advocacy group, Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has condemned the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC’s) fine nine.million naira on three television networks for their coverage of the #EndSARS protests.
The acting Director-General of NBC, Prof. Armstrong Idachaba, announced at a press conference in Abuja on Monday, October 26, a cumulative fine of nine million naira on Channels Television, Arise Television and Africa Independent Television for the “unprofessional coverage” of the protests.
Each network is to pay three million naira fine, according to Idachaba.
In a statement signed by the Deputy Director of SERAP, Kolawole Oluwadare, the nonprofit “condemned the unconstitutional and illegal fines of nine million naira reportedly” imposed by NBC.
According to the SERAP, “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 We will sue the NBC if the unconstitutional fines are not rescinded within 48 hours.”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 nonprofit defined the action as 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,” it added.
‘The ability to practise 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,” SERAP started.
“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,” it added.
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