HURIWA indicts NBC DG : Accuses Commission of undermining media freedom, killing radio stations with frivolous fines

•HURIWA National coordinator of HURIWA, Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko

•HURIWA National coordinator of HURIWA, Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko

The Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) has raised alarm that the current Director General of the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), Alhaji Ishaq Modibbo Kawu, has become a religious and fanatical enforcer of pro-Buhari sentiments in public and private broadcasting.

The group called on the National Assembly to investigate the claims of nepotism, favouritism and religious sentiments in the exercise of functions and duties of the office of the Director-General by the holder of that office currently in NBC.

HURIWA lamented that the allegation that the Minister of Information, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, wrote to the National Broadcasting Commission over a year ago to raise him a loan to travel to China has not been sufficiently investigated in compliance with the principles of transparency and accountability just as the group faulted the appointment of a non-professional journalist as Minister of Information.

In a media statement jointly signed by the National Coordinator, Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko, and the Media Affairs Director, Miss Zainab Yusuf, HURIWA said it is imperative that the head of that government agency is compelled to operate within the principle of rule of law and adherence to the constitutional provisions, just as it restated that compelling him to respect section 22 of the constitution would serve to achieve the betterment of Nigerians’ collective yearning for the expansion of the frontiers of media freedoms.

HURIWA in the statement issued on Thursday in Abuja said it has been inundated with complaints from all over the country against some overbearing and Islamo-dictatorial tendencies of the Director General of NBC and his excessive penchant to compel broadcasters to become praise singers of president Buhari or face arbitrary fines and other restrictions such as the blacklisting of certain categories of guests from been invited as guest speakers by those broadcasting houses.

The rights group wondered why the head of NBC has turned himself into a demi-god and the partisan chief enforcer of soft tissues of propaganda for the ruling party when, in fact, he ought to be holding that office is in trust for the good people of Nigeria.

“On good authority, we have been told of the unprecedented impunity and reign of nepotism, ethnoreligious chauvinism that goes on inside the inner recesses of the office of the director general. We were informed of how he has allegedly used his office to stand in the way of the promotions of officers who are not Hausa-Fulani Moslems,” HURIWA said.

“There is an urgent need for the National Assembly to focus her attention on the NBC with the hope of compelling the head of that institution not to view his office as that of the enforcer of the APC code of broadcasting but as a non-partisan office holder. The NBC ACT should be amended to bring it into consonance with global best practices and ensure that the holder of the office of DG must be a person of good standing and a patriot who must carry out his official functions without prejudice to the Ethno Religious interests of the staff and management of that agency and must show demonstrable evidence of total non-partisanship,” HURIWA further said.

Continuing, the group said: “We have been informed that Channels TV was fined N5 million in the month of July 2018 for refusing to be the propaganda machine of the government against National Assembly and Senator Bukola Saraki.

“We have been informed that Kiss FM in Lagos is dying in silence. Cool FM is complaining. City FM along Ogba-Ikeja road in Lagos is about to die due to over FINE. A radio station in Ibadan was fined N500,000 because a jingle critical of Fulani Herdsmen was aired therein. Star FM in Ogun State is currently in dilemma. Sweet FM in the gateway state is battling to retain its licence. Wazobia FM must declare all guests to feature in their programmes to NBC or face FINE. The frequency of Rhythm FM has been suspended five times in 2018 for refusing to stop inviting some Public Analysts critical of President Buhari.”

HURIWA recalled that; “Ekiti TV and Radio are under lock and key because the state Governor, Ayo Fayose exposed how results were altered and rigged during the July 14th governorship elections in the state against the wishes of the people. As usual, some, due to party sentiment, clapped when Ekiti TV and Radio were shut. Hope someone is getting something Nigeria.”

The statement recalled that Mr. Gbenga Aruleba of Focus Nigeria on AIT was reportedly suspended from his programme because of pressure from NBC even as Raypower’s Political Platform was fined N500,000 for running live commentary on the National Assembly imbroglio on the day of mass defection at the Senate.

HURIWA said the totality of these provisions have not permitted the Director-General to convert his office to the one-sided job of a chief enforcer of the ideology and agenda of the party that produced the President who is the appointing authority for four years as against section 22 which gives the media the job of the national conscience of the nation.

Source News Express

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