Mary Ugbodaga, The Cable NG
The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has condemned the fines imposed by the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) on Africa Independent Television (AIT), Channels TV and ARISE TV over the coverage of the #End SARS protests.
NBC had announced earlier on Monday that the three stations were fined for airing footages from “unverified and unauthenticated social media sources”.
However, SERAP, in a statement issued on Monday, said it will sue NBC if the “unconstitutional fines” are not reversed within 48 hours.
According to the advocacy organisation, such fines are an attempt to intimidate the media.
“This action by the NBC is yet another example of Nigerian authorities’ push to silence independent media and voices. The NBC should drop the fines and uphold Nigerian constitution and international obligations to respect and protect freedom of expression and media freedom. We will sue the NBC if the unconstitutional fines are not rescinded within 48 hours,” the statement read.
“This is a new low in Nigeria’s protection of freedom of expression, and the ability of independent media to function in the country. The fines are detrimental to media freedom, and access to information, and the NBC must immediately withdraw the decision.
“Media freedom and media plurality are a central part of the effective exercise of freedom of expression and access to information. The ability to practice journalism free from undue interference, to cover peaceful protests, and critical views are crucial to the exercise of many other rights and freedoms.
“The media has a vital role to play as ‘public watchdog’ in imparting information of serious public concern and should not be inhibited or intimidated from playing that role. The NBC should stop targeting and intimidating independent media and voices.
“President Muhammadu Buhari should caution the NBC to stop intimidating and harassing independent media houses and to respect the Nigerian Constitution 1999 [as amended] and the country’s international human rights obligations, including under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights.”