SERAP threatens Litigation as NBC warns Media against Newspaper Reviews
The Nigerian Broadcasting Commission ,NBC has warned broadcast media against revealing too much details while reporting insecurity in Nigeria as it may have adverse impact on the efforts of security agencies in tackling the challenges.
The commission noted in a letter to broadcast stations that, “while bringing information on security to the doorsteps of Nigerians is a necessity, there is a need for caution.”
It said this is because “some of the topics also have ethnological coating thereby, pitching one section of the country against the other and leaving Nigerians in daily hysteria.”
Dated July 7, the letter, which was signed by the director of broadcast monitoring, Francis Aiyetan, on behalf of the commission’s director-general, enjoined the stations to join hands with the government by not “glamorising the activities of insurgents, terrorists, kidnappers, bandits.”
Mrs Aiyetan also said in the letter that broadcast stations should advise “guests and/or analysts on programmes not to polarise the citizenry with divisive rhetoric, in driving home their point. ”
She also called on them not to give “details of either the security issues or victims of these security challenges so as not to jeopardise the efforts of the Nigerian soldiers and other security agents. ”
“The commission reminds you to be guided by the provisions of Sections 5.4.1(f) and 5.4.3 of the NBC Code that states:” the letter read.
“The broadcaster shall not transmit divisive materials that may threaten or compromise the indivisibility and indissolubility of Nigeria as a Sovereign state” and “in reporting conflict situations, the broadcaster shall perform the role of a peace agent by adhering to the principle of responsibility, accuracy and neutrality.”
Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has sent an open letter to President Muhammadu Buhari urging him to instruct the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) to withdraw the directive banning journalists and broadcast stations from reporting details of terrorist attacks and victims across the country.
SERAP in a letter signed by its Deputy Director, Kolawole Oluwadare, said failure of the government to withdraw the order within 24 hours would push them to take all appropriate legal actions in the public interest.
The organisation said the contents of the directive by the NBC 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.
The letter read in part: “The vague and overbroad definitions of ‘too many details’, ‘glamourising’, ‘divisive rhetoric’, and ‘security issues’ also raise concern that the NBC directive unduly interferes with the rights to freedom of expression and information, and is disproportionate to any purported legitimate governmental aim.
Allowing the media to freely carry out their duties is essential to building a secure society and leaving no one behind. Conversely, imposing impermissible restrictions on broadcast stations, journalists and other Nigerians undermines the security that builds a healthy and vibrant society.
“While your government has the obligation to maintain national security, this obligation is not set apart from the obligation to protect and ensure human rights. National security is a necessary and integral part of the right to security guaranteed to each person individually.”