NBC denies stopping broadcast stations from reporting terrorist attacks
The National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) has denied stopping television and radio stations from giving details of terrorist attacks in Nigeria.
The regulator had, in a letter dated July 7, 2021, directed broadcast stations to stop giving details on activities of terrorists and kidnappers during their daily newspaper reviews.
But the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability (SERAP), in a letter dated July 17, 2021, signed by its deputy director, Kolawole Oluwadare, argued that the directive was inconsistent with Nigeria’s obligations under Article 9 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
Reacting, the NBC, in a letter to the group, said it did not in any way direct stations to stop reporting details of terrorist attacks and other violations across the federation.
According to the commission, the content of its correspondence is not intended and by no means capable of being construed or interpreted as a sweeping gag on broadcast stations and journalists in the country.
In the letter, signed by the Director General, Balarabe Shehu Ilelah, the commission added that it was conscious of the prevalent security challenges nationwide.
It said: “Advising broadcast stations to also be conscious and exercise caution by not glamorising the nefarious activities of insurgents, terrorists, kidnappers, bandits and others by ensuring their transmissions conform with extant provisions of the Nigeria Broadcasting Code, as well as professional ethics of the profession, is consistent and not incompatible with the 1999 Constitution.”
The NBC insisted that there was nowhere in the body of the contentious letter that contained words or phrases stopping broadcasters from reporting any case or threatening fine and punishment other than reminding them of the existing code and urging practitioners to perform the role of peace agents in the interest of national security.
The regulator continued: “These can definitely not be seen as suppressing freedom of expression by any means or endangering the job of journalists in the country.”
It stated that the Bill for an Act to amend the NBC Act, Cap N11, Laws of the Federation, 2004 had no single provision that could suppress freedom of expression and access to information if eventually passed.
The NBC, therefore, challenged SERAP to counter the assertion with tangible proof.
It charged the rights group on cooperation to expand media space in Nigeria and develop the industry for national security, peace and order in a democratic society.
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