South-West Group of Online Publishers (SWEGOP) has described the ordering of the immediate stoppage of one of Channels Television’s programmes, ‘Politics Today’ and the fine of five million naira on the station by the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) purportedly for breaching the broadcast code as unconstitutional and arbitrary.
The Acting Director-General of the Commission (NBC), Professor Armstrong Idachaba, in a letter to the Managing Director of Channels Television referred to Channels’ 7 pm live programme of Sunday, 25th April 2021, that saw the TV station interviewing a leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) allegedly without “caution or reprimand.”
SWEGOP in a release on Monday evening, signed by its Chairman, Mr Olayinka Agboola and the Public Relations Officer, Remi Oladoye said: “The decision of the NBC to order the stoppage of Channels TV’s programme is yet another instance of the Federal Government’s plan to effectively muzzle independent media and voices. The development is, no doubt, detrimental to media freedom and access to information in the country.”
The group of online publishers noted that the President Muhammadu Buhari-led government has a responsibility to protect Nigerians’ rights to freedom of expression and access to information.
SWEGOP, while describing media freedom as a central part of the effective exercise of freedom of expression and access to information said: “Punishing Channels TV lacks any legal basis whatsoever, hence it amounts to an arbitrary and unjust application of regulations against the media. It is equally unconstitutional.
“The government and NBC should, therefore, uphold the 1999 Constitution (as amended) and international obligations to respect and protect freedom of expression and media freedom, by thereby and reversing itself.”
SWEGOP then urged President Buhari to caution NBC to stop intimidating and harassing independent media and respect the Nigerian Constitution.