The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has condemned what it described as the renewed clampdown on the media and gagging of free speech in the country by the All Progressives Congress (APC)-led Federal Government.
PDP stated this in a statement issued on Friday by its Spokeman, Kola Ologbondiyan while reacting to the N5m fine slammed on Nigeria Info by the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) over alleged “unprofessional broadcast.”
Nigeria Info was fined after it featured a former Deputy Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Obadiah Mailafia in one of its programmes, where he commented on the killings in Southern Kaduna and his claim that a Northern governor was the leader of Boko Haram terrorists.
NBC in its statement said, “The National Broadcasting Commission has noted with grave concern, the unprofessional conduct of Nigeria Info 99.3FM, Lagos, in the handling of the Programme, “Morning Cross Fire”, aired on August 10, 2020, between 8.30am and 9.00am.
“The station provided its platform for the guest, Dr. Mailafia Obadiah, to promote unverifiable and inciting views that could encourage or incite to crime and lead to public disorder.
“Dr. Mailafia Obadiah’s comments on the “Southern Kaduna Crisis”, were devoid of facts and by broadcasting same to the public, Nigeria Info 99.3FM, is in violation of the following sections of the Nigeria Broadcasting Code:
“In line with the amendment of the 6th edition of the Nigeria Broadcasting Code, Nigeria Info 99.3FM Lagos, has been fined the sum of N5,000,000.00 (Five Million Naira), only.”
Mailafia was invited by the Plateau state command of the Department of State Services (DSS). after the programme. He was however, released shortly.
But Ologbondiyan insists that, without prejudice to the allegations or claims the Federal Government has against Nigeria Info, a broadcast station, on issues of content, the Federal Government cannot, on its own, impose sanctions against a media house or individuals for expressing their right to free speech.
He said “The PDP holds that if any anybody, be him the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, a state governor, a Senator of the Federal Republic, a Member of the House of Representatives, a public entity, or even the most ordinary Nigerian, have been libeled or infringed upon by any other Nigerian, the process for redress is clearly stated in the 1999 Constitution
(as amended), and should be followed.
“As a party, the PDP stands against draconian methods or underhand measures which this administration has set out to gag the media and erode the rights of Nigerians as guaranteed by the 1999 Constitution (as amended).
“Our party holds that due process must be followed for redress in instances where violations are alleged and not by extra judicial sanctions and clampdown on the media, as being witnessed under the APC administration.
“The PDP, standing in solidarity with Nigerians, therefore condemns any attempt to gag the media and asks the APC federal government to rescind its draconian actions and reverse to due process, as provided by the 1999 Constitution, in handling issues relating to the freedom of the media.”