THE Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has kicked against the intention of the Federal Government to sanction Daily Trust and the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) over their documentaries on insecurity in Nigeria.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Muhammed, had stated last Thursday that the Federal government would sanction the BBC and Trust TV for airing documentaries it alleged “glorify, promote and fuel” terrorism and banditry in Nigeria.
Reacting to the development, SERAP called on President Muhammadu Buhari to urgently instruct Mohammed to withdraw the sanction threat, whether through the Nigeria Broadcasting Commission or any other agency of the government.
In a statement dated July 30, 2022 and signed by the SERAP Deputy Director, Kolawole Oluwadare, the group asserted that it was the duty of the media to inform the public on issues of public interest.
“The media must impart information and ideas on issues of public importance. If carried out, the threat to sanction the BBC and Daily Trust would inhibit the media from reporting on issues of public interest.
“Media houses and journalists ought to be given the room to determine how best to present information of public interest, especially information about the growing violence and killings across the country.
“Rather than punishing the media for promoting access to diverse opinions and information on issues of public importance, your government should focus on delivering your promises to ensure the security of Nigerians,” the group stated.
SERAP stated it would appreciate government’s action on its request to withdraw the threat within 48 hours of the receipt and/or publication of its letter.
“If we have not heard from you by then, SERAP shall take all appropriate legal actions in the public interest,” the group warned, adding that a free, uncensored and unhindered press or other media was essential in any society to ensure freedom of opinion and expression and the enjoyment of other rights.
“It constitutes one of the cornerstones of a democratic society,” SERAP reminded the government.
The statement further read, “Sanctioning the BBC and Daily Trust would be 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 threat, if carried out, would impermissibly restrict the constitutional and international rights to freedom of expression, access to information, and victims’ rights to justice and effective remedies that are central to public debate and accountability in a democratic society.”