AMNESTY International has condemned the National Broadcasting Commission’s (NBC) final warning to Arise Television station on alleged violation of the Nigerian Broadcasting Code, urging the Nigerian authorities to stop its “unrelenting quest to silence media organisations.”
The International non-governmental organisation headquartered in the United Kingdom criticised NBC for its warning in a statement on Saturday, October 7, shared on its X handle.
It said censoring the media for doing their work sends the wrong message that the Nigerian authorities must prepare to be held accountable.
“Amnesty International condemns the ‘final warning’ issued to @ARISEtv by the FG through National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) Targeting Arise TV simply for doing their work sends the wrong message that; Nigerian authorities are not prepared to be held accountable,” Amnesty International stated.
It urged the Nigerian authorities to stop the “unrelenting quest to silence media organisations which are crucial to ensuring independent and diverse media space in the country and fulfilling people’s right to information.
“Using regulations as a way to silence independent journalism is completely unacceptable. The media in Nigeria should be free to exercise their right to freedom of expression as protected by international law,” it added.
Reactions also trailed NBC’s final warning to Arise Television, an indigenous broadcasting station.
On his X handle, Peter Obi, Grassroots Mobilization, tweeted, “They have commenced their attack on media houses, just as we revealed few days ago.”
Arise TV co-host of the ‘Morning Show,’ Rufai Useni, also on his X handle, tweeted “, The National broadcaster aired an acceptance speech by a Gubernatorial candidate even when the election wasn’t concluded, and INEC had to step in and save the elections in Adamawa, till today no penalty by the media regulators in Nigeria.”
In another tweet, he said, “The same media regulator that fined three TV stations for showing real footage of ENDSARS that was verified true.”
Multiple media platforms reported that the Director-General of NBC, Balarabe Shehu llelah, gave the warning in a letter to the Chief Executive Officer of Arise Global Limited.
llelah said the Commission is issuing Arise TV the final warning for flagging derogatory and incendiary remarks on the station’s programmes.
He also accused Arise TV of defaulting on its responsibility while airing its Newsday programme, which featured the Spokesperson of the Labour Party, Kenneth Okonkwo, who, it said, used derogatory remarks on air.
The ICIR reports that the warning comes eight months after the Commission fined Arise TV N2 million for breaching Nigeria’s broadcasting codes.
llelah said Arise TV must install a delay mechanism to avoid unwanted content.
The letter is titled, ‘Preponderance of derogatory and incendiary remarks: final warning,’ the Punch reported.
It read, “The NBC has observed with concern preponderance of incendiary remarks allowed on Arise news. This letter seeks to underscore the tremendous responsibility put on the broadcaster to manage the array of guests that may feature on the station from time to time.
“The Commission listed the station’s morning show programme on October 5 anchored by Reuben Abati, Rufai Oseni and Ayo Maio-Ese, which featured Oladokun Hassan and Dele Farotimi as guests.
“The programme contained unguarded incendiary remarks by Dele Farotimi against the Legislature and the Executive, the Judiciary and Mr. President.”
In the letter, the NBS drew the attention of the broadcast station to broadcast rule and code 1.10.3, 3.3.1(a), 3.3.3(c), 3.3.1 (e), 5.3.3(b) and 5.5.6.
The NBS further cited cases claiming the Arise TV station had gone against the broadcasting codes.
It added, “On January 26, 2023, at 9 40 a.m., during the programme Morning Show, a guest, Na’jaatu Muhammed described the Presidential Candidate of APC, Bola Tinubu, as mentally deranged without caution from the anchor. The guest had a field day with vituperations against the presidential candidate of the APC.
“On January 31, 2023, at 3:30 pm, during the broadcast of the PDP presidential rally in Sokoto State, Dino Melaye referred to the Vice-Presidential candidate of APC, Kashim Shettima as GCOB, meaning Grand Commander of Bandits.”