The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has given President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration 24 hours to withdraw the order by National Broadcasting Commission on reportage of terrorist attacks.
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This was stated in an open letter sent to the President, urging him to use his leadership position “to urgently instruct Mr. Lai Mohammed, Minister of Information and Culture, and the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) to withdraw the directive containing a sweeping gag order banning journalists and broadcast stations from reporting details of terrorist attacks and victims across the country.”
The NBC in a letter dated 7 July 2021 had issued a directive asking journalists, television, and radio stations in Nigeria to stop “glamourizing and giving too many details on the nefarious activities of terrorists and kidnappers” during their daily newspaper reviews.
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In her reaction to this, SERAP in a letter dated 17 July 2021 and signed by its deputy director Kolawole Oluwadare said: “The contents of the directive by the NBC to journalists and broadcast stations are entirely inconsistent and incompatible 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.”
While the directive would limit free expression, public debate, and accountability, it will also have a disproportionate chilling effect on the work of those seeking to hold the government accountable to the public.