SERAP tasks NBC to cancel fines on Channels, AIT, Arise TV


  • Threatens to sue NBC over unconstitutional, illegal fines

Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), leading Nigerian rights group, has given the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) 48 hours to cancel the fines imposed on three TV channels over their coverage of #EndSARS protests.

Recalled, NBC had Monday slammed fines on Channels TV, African Independent Television, AIT, and Arise TV over alleged unprofessional reporting of the #EndSARS protests in the country.

In its reaction, SERAP “condemned the unconstitutional and illegal fines of N9m” and threatened to go to court.

A statement issued by Deputy Director, SERAP Kolawole Oluwadare, said: “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“We will sue the NBC if the unconstitutional fines are not rescinded within 48 hours.”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 organization said: “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 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.

“The ability to practice 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.”

“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.”

NBC had earlier at  a news conference in Abuja said the three stations did not exhibit professionalism in reporting the #EndSARS protest, especially the shooting at Lekki Tollgate in Lagos.

Director General, NBC, Prof. Armstrong Idachaba, accused the stations of airing unverified videos of what transpired during the Lekki Tollgate protest after soldiers were said to have shot at protesters.

The stations were fined between N2 million and N3 million.

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