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MRA, IPC, others condemn fining of media outfits, threaten action

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Groups, including the Media Rights Agenda (MRA), International Press Centre (IPC) and Concerned Nigerians, have condemned the sanctioning of three media outfits by the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) over the coverage of the #EndSARS protests, describing the action as an “outrageous violation of the constitution and basic principles of fair hearing.”

The regulator, in a letter dated October 23, 2020 and signed by its Acting Director General, Prof. Armstrong Idachaba, fined Channels Television, Africa Independent Television (AIT) and ARISE Television N3 million each for their alleged use of unsubstantiated footages from social media, while giving them three weeks to pay the money.

But in a joint statement issued yesterday, MRA and IPC accused NBC of turning itself into a “kangaroo court”.

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They called for immediate reversal of the decision.

MRA’s Executive Director, Edetaen Ojo, threatened legal action if the agency sticks to its position.

His IPC counterpart, Lanre Arogundade, noted: “The NBC has in this matter again constituted itself into the accuser, the prosecutor and the judge in its own case. It is indeed strange that the fines were arbitrarily imposed without giving the concerned media outlets the option of defending the allegations. All this constitutes an affront on rule of law.”

He explained that his organisation would team up with MRA to use the instrumentality of the law to challenge the “absurdities perpetrated by NBC.”

In a petition to Idachaba, convener of Concerned Nigerians, Deji Adeyanju, said the penalty was draconian, unwarranted and anti-democratic.

The group stated: “Your draconian warning to these media platforms and subsequent sanctions for carrying out their constitutionally guaranteed freedom to avail citizens real facts about the human rights violations by the security agents and insight into the trend of social development in the country are anti-democratic, and must stop.”

It vowed to write the United States and United Kingdom governments, as well as the European Union (EU) for visa ban on the DG and his immediate family for “suppressing press freedom in Nigeria” if the decision subsists.

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