NBC claims AIT, Raypower warned before suspension
The Nigeria Broadcasting Commission Thursday night claimed the managements of Daar Communications Plc’s AIT/Raypower stations had been warned several times about breaches of broadcasting regulations but did not flinch.
“The NBC have over the last 2 years summoned on several occasions management of the company to address issues regarding the operations of AIT/Raypower with the company, particularly, Political Platform and Kakaaki aired on AIT,” NBC said in a statement.
The commission said its recent monitoring reports on AIT/Raypower indicate the “use of divisive comments accredited to the segment of “Kakaaki”, tagged, “Kakaaki Social”, where inciting comments like, “Nigeria is cursed, we declare independent state of Niger Delta”, “Nigeria irritates me”, “this country is gradually Islamizing” and other similar slogans are used without editorial control in breach of the broadcast Code.”
“We were, therefore, constrained to issue Daar Communication letters of warning dated May 27th, 2019,” NBC said.
The NBC said it again monitored a documentary on the Presidential Election Tribunal on AIT on Wednesday and Thursday, 22nd and 23rd May, 2019 which was done without regard to the Broadcast Code.
“The commission, in line with its regulatory powers again cautioned AIT in another letter also dated 27th May, 2019,” NBC said.
The NBC, which regulates radio and television stations, said AIT/Rapower again on Thursday used “inflammatory, divisive, inciting broadcasts, and media propaganda against the government and, the NBC”, hence the suspension.
The AIT and Ray Power FM, both owned by Raymond Dokpesi’s has strongly denied all allegations of wrongdoing, saying the Buhari administration was out to victimise them over of their perceived allegiance to the opposition.
Dokpesi has been a long-time member of the opposition People’s Democratic Party (PDP), and once contested to be the party’s chairman.
The suspension has generated widespread criticism in the country.
PDP’s Atiku Abubakar condemned the closure of AIT, warning that the fabrics of Nigeria’s democracy were being shredded by the Buhari government.
“The Legislature has been challenged. The Judiciary has been tackled,” Abubakar tweeted.
“If, at this time, we stand by as the press loses its independence, there will be little to differentiate us from a dictatorship,” he added.
“The suspension of @AIT_Online is an utterly condemnable act.The suspension is politically motivated.Its an act of ingratitude & treachery to strangulate the very media outlet that has played a pivotal role in the struggle for the restoration and defense of democracy,” a former Kaduna senator, Shehu Sani tweeted.
The President of the Nigeria Union of Journalists, Christopher Isiguzo, said the shutdown would be resisted by journalists in the country.
“This simply signposts the return to the dark days. The NUJ will not accept any attempt by anybody, no matter how highly or lowly placed, to arm-twist or gag the media from freely expressing itself,” Isiguzo said.
“If within 24 hours the decision is not rescinded, the NUJ might be forced to act,” he added.