The Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE) has condemned in very strong terms the indefinite suspension of the licences of the African Independent Television, AIT, and Ray Power by the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC).
The two stations belonged to Daar Communications Limited.
Recall that the National Broadcasting Commission, NBC, had on Thursday suspended the licences of the African Independent Television, AIT, and Ray Power FM indefinitely.
NBC’s Director-General, Dr Modibbo Kawu, said the stations committed offences, which included the airing of a Presidential election documentary by the AIT, a matter pending before a tribunal; the inability of the company to pay its fees, the use of “divisive and inciting contents from the social media,” and others.
But in a statement signed by the President, FUNKE Egbemode and the Secretary, Mary Atolagbe, and made available to National Daily, the Guild demands the revocation of the suspension order as it runs contrary to the ideals of free speech and the fine tenets of press freedom.
It described the action as a case of Executive highhandedness which paints the country in the darkest tar of dictatorship.
“The Fourth Estate of the Realm remains the watchdog of society and any attempt to gag it in any guise is an affront on democracy and the people. The NBC must and should rescind this ignoble and despicable decision.
“The Guild is concerned about the violation of the constitutional rights of DAAR Communications and absence of media freedom, independence and the stifling of operations of media outfits which are performing their roles as the watchdog of the Nigerian society.
According to the Guide, the muzzling the media and throwing thousands of Nigerians into the already saturated labour market should not be the trophy for good corporate governance of a regulator, but rather something to be ashamed of, and that the NBC should be ashamed at its action in a fledgling democracy in the 21st Century.
“The Guild is strongly of the opinion that the NBC, in exercising its regulatory powers, should concentrate on implementing policies that will position Nigeria’s broadcasting to compete in the global spheres, rather than engage in witch-hunting and unnecessary show of excessive force.
While expressing the Guide’s solidarity with the AIT/Raypower family, the group urged the staff and management to remain calm as the Guild liaises with well-meaning Nigerians and other media professionals to get justice.
The NGE appeals to President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR, to use his good offices to call NBC to order.
It is to be recalled that NBC had, before the 2019 general election, shut down Joy FM in Jos for violations of the broadcasting code. Last year, the NBC shut down Ekiti Radio/TV station. Shutting down stations and withdrawing licences are too extreme in the circumstance. There must be humane and saner ways to resolve disputes bordering on violation of the Broadcasting Code.