DigiCivic Initiative has decried the supposed final warning of the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) issued against Arise TV station on 6th of October 2023 in respect of its morning show.
In the final warning, NBC cited the media house for allowing incendiary remarks on live TV and demanding the station to apply a delay mechanism on a real-time program in order to manipulate the information presented to members of the public.
In a press statement made available to BONews Service, DigiCivic Initiative noted that the actions of NBC presuppose that citizens have no right to criticize and call out public officeholders in order to make them accountable to the people as required in a democratic nation like Nigeria.
The rights group explained that “while we understand the regulator’s responsibility to ensure that media houses comply with its requirements for professional broadcasts, we must however draw distinctions as to expressions or statements made in good faith and to allow citizens pursue their rights to access information, participate in governance and political debates, especially at a time like this in which Nigeria has come under international scrutiny.”
The group also noted that “media houses and television stations provide platforms for citizens to participate in governance and public debates and it is outrageous that NBC expects the TV station to silence its guests while they are performing their constitutionally guaranteed duty to the Nigerian nation. It is even absurd to restrain the good people of Nigeria from expressing themselves or having access to diverse information in the forms of divergent perspectives on political matters and governance.”
DigiCivic Initiative thereafter called on NBC to exercise restraint and keep in focus its allegiance to the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and refrain from being used as a tool for censorship and promoting the manifest chilling effects on the press.
“It is absolutely wrong for NBC to continue on this path as it becomes obvious that its intent is to use regulations to silence journalism and restrain the press. The Nigerian press is guaranteed the right to freedom of expression as it is reasonably necessary in a democratic society under the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended), the African Charter and other international instruments.
“We therefore call on NBC to desist from causing a chilling effect on the media environment, promote, respect and protect the right to the freedom of expression of citizens and withdraw its sword for the good of our civic space and for the ultimate good of the Nigerian democracy,” the group added.