Press Freedom: NBC, BON condemn ‘illegal’ closure of broadcast stations in Zamfara

*The National Broadcasting Commission urges the security agencies to not restrict staff of the affected media stations from performing their legitimate duties, reminding the personnel also to avoid any action inimical to democratic governance and peaceful coexistence in Nigeria

Isola Moses | ConsumerConnect

Sequel to the state’s recent clampdown on the media firms, and the citizens’ right to information, the Broadcasting Organisations of Nigeria (BON) and National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) have faulted the Zamfara State Government’s shutting down of broadcast houses.

The Zamfara State Government Saturday, October 15, 2022, had shut the stations for covering the political event of PDP Governorship Candidate Dauda Lawal.

However, in separate reactions, the bodies said the negative development in Zamfara State is uncalled for.

ConsumerConnect reports Mr. Balarabe Illela, Director-General of the NBC, stated: “The National Broadcasting Commission has noted with serious concern the illegal action of Zamfara State Government by directing the shutdown of operations of licensees of the Commission in the State, on Saturday, October 15, 2022.

“The NBC has clearly notified the State Government of the gravity of the illegality and requested it to expeditiously reverse the directive and apologize to the people of the State.”

The NBC Chief said: “We also urge the Security Agencies to ignore the call to restrict Staff of the affected Stations from conducting their legitimate duties.

“The Commission wishes to further emphasise that it will resist ANY attempt to cause a breach of law and order ANYWHERE through the misuse of the broadcast media in Nigeria, before, during, and after the 2023 national elections.”

He also noted: “We call on ALL industry stakeholders to resist ANY attempt to truncate the hard-earned democratic gains in Nigeria.

“ANY aggrieved Person or Institution with genuine complaints) arising from unprofessional conduct or action by ANY licensed broadcaster in Nigeria is hereby requested to follow the laid down processes enshrined in the Nigeria Broadcasting Code.

“The Commission will not relent to discharge its mandate according to the NBC Act, CAP. NII, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.

“All broadcast licence holders are urged to ensure strict compliance and avoid ANY action inimical to democratic governance and peaceful coexistence in Nigeria.

“Kindly extend the warmest high regards and assurances of the Director-General and the Board of management of the NBC, to ALL Nigerians.”

Likewise, BON said it received the development with disbelief.

The broadcasters’ body, in a statement issued by Yemisi Bamgbose, Executive Secretary of BON, said: “The Broadcasting Organisations of Nigeria (BON) has received with TOTAL shock and disbelief the order made by the Governor of Zamfara State, Bello Matawalle to shutdown Federal and private broadcast media houses in Zamfara State.

“We hasten to state that the Governor not only lacks the constitutional power to issue such an order, the order is also an arbitrary and a naked abuse and misuse of executive power.”

Bamgbose also stated: “The power to licence or withdraw the licence of a broadcast media is vested in the National Broadcasting Commission established by an Act of Parliament.

“Even at that, the Constitution and the Act did not give any room for arbitrariness in the exercise of the power to impose sanctions talk less of closure of broadcast media on any agency or any level of government including the Federal Government, without following the laid down procedure and seeking an order from a court of competent jurisdiction. “This position of the law has been upheld by the law courts at various times.”

BON further said: “The closure of the Federal and private broadcast media by the Governor is equally an affront against the Electoral Act 2022 which should be curbed immediately before it destroys our nascent democracy.”

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