SERAP demands withdrawal of broadcasting code seeking to sanction contents ‘insulting’ leader

THE Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has sent an open letter to President Muhammadu  Buhari, urging him to “urgently instruct the Minister of Information and Culture, Mr Lai Mohammed, and the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) to withdraw the apparently illegal broadcasting code and memo threatening to  sanction any broadcast that denigrates, disrespects or insults the president, governors, lawmakers and other elders and  leaders in authority.”

SERAP also asked President Buhari to “instruct Mr Mohammed and the NBC to immediately rescind a fine of N5 million  imposed on Nigeria Info 99.3 FM radio station, following reported comments by a former deputy governor of the  Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Obadiah Malafia, during an interview with the station.”

The NBC, last week, reportedly issued a warning to journalists and broadcast stations, stating: “To denigrate our governors, lawmakers, elders and leaders in abusive terms is not our culture. We respect our leaders as a positive cultural value. The commission may be compelled to impose sanctions where stations fail to curb this practice.”

In the letter dated August 15 and signed by SERAP’s deputy director, Kolawole Oluwadare, the organisation said: “Rather than pushing to enforce a culture to respect president, governors, lawmakers, elders and other leaders, Mr Muhammed and the NBC should use their entrusted public office and mandate to promote a culture of public debate, access to information, transparency and accountability according to SERAP, nothing can be more destructive to people’s exercise of basic human rights and to democratic politics than the suppression of the media and media freedom.

It said the alleged ‘cultural codes’ which Mr Muhammed and the NBC are now using to punish journalists, broadcast stations and other Nigerians are patently contrary to public interests.

SERAP stated: “The implementation of the broadcasting code and the memo would further deter meaningful citizens’ engagement and have a chilling effect on Nigerians’ human rights, particularly the rights to freedom of expression and access to  information; undermine the idea of representative democracy as well as make public officials less responsive to the people.”

The letter, a copy of which was sent to the minister, read in part: “We would be grateful if the requested action and measures are taken within seven days of the receipt and/ or publication of this letter. If we have not heard from you by then that the measures have been taken, the registered trustees of SERAP shall take all appropriate legal actions to compel you to do so in the public interest.

“Our requests are entirely consistent and compatible with the Nigerian constitution of 1999 (as amended) and the country’s international legal obligations, including under the United Nations Convention against Corruption, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, to which the country is a state party.

“SERAP is seriously concerned that the implementation of the broadcasting code and the memo would lead to unjust punishment and self-censorship among journalists and the media, and exacerbate the growing level of impunity for attacks on media freedom.

“SERAP is concerned that rather than addressing these matters of public interest and revelation of massive allegations of corruption and mismanagement in ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs), your government is devoting time and energy to stop the media and journalists from reporting on the issues.

“In a truly representative democracy that Nigeria is striving to become, those who venture into public life, whether in the capacity of president, governor or lawmakers, must expect to have their constitutional and public functions subjected to scrutiny and public discussion.

“By allowing journalists and the media to freely and independently perform their roles of informing the public, Nigerians will be able to monitor and keep politicians on a tighter leash, which will contribute to good government. “The broadcasting code and the memo are illegal, unconstitutional and amount to a misuse of public office insofar as they blatantly fail to follow due process of law, meet basic constitutional and international fair trial standards, and a strict three-part test of legality, necessity and proportionality.

“According to the United Nations Human Rights Committee, the free communication of information and ideas about public and political issues between citizens, candidates and elected representatives is essential. This implies a free press  and other media able to comment on public issues without censorship or restraint and to inform public opinion.”



STATE OF ECONOMY: How Nigeria Is Eating Its Future, Spent Over 90% Of Revenue On Debt Servicing
INDICATION that Nigeria’s economy is still in the throes of death has continued to emerge with the current low revenue it is generating from oil sale and increasing demands on its foreign debt obligation especially. The parlous state of the economy is heightened by the revelation that most of the revenue…

FACT CHECK: Somalia President, Deputy DID NOT Fight In Viral VIDEO
CLAIM: Somalia President, Mohamed Abdullahi Farmaajo and his vice exchanged blows to the point of wrestling themselves to the ground.
FULL STORY: Nigerian media space was abuzz on Saturday, August 15, 2020, with a viral video which claims to show President of Somalia, Mohamed Abdullahi Farmaajo publicly exchanged blows with his vice…

NBS Says 21.76m Nigerians Unemployed In 2020
THE National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) has put the total number of unemployed Nigerians at 21,764,617. The figure is contained in the bureau’s Labor Force Statistics website entitled “Unemployment and Underemployment Report (Q2 2020) released in Abuja. It referred to the report as an Abridged Labour Force Survey under COVID-19 for August 2020. According to NBS, the unemployment rate during the period under review…

Our Fears As 2020 WASSCE Beckons: SS3 Students Speak On Inability To Finish Syllabus, Other Issues
After a long unexpected delay occasioned by the lockdown from the coronavirus pandemic, the 2020 West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE) will begin in 19,129 accredited centres nationwide on August 17. Some candidates hoping to write the examination spoke with IMOLEAYO OYEDEYI and ADEOLA OTEMADE on their fears and expectations…

FG’s Renewed Tax Drive Will Do More Harm Than Good To Businesses —Muda Yusuf, DG, LCCI
The Director-General, Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), Dr Muda Yusuf, speaks with AKIN ADEWAKUN on the state of the nation’s economy, the various efforts of the federal government to breathe life into it, and why the renewed aggressive tax drive it recently embarked upon might be an anathema to the growth of the industrial sector since it targets investors more than the consumers…

You might also like

This website uses cookies to improve your experience. We'll assume you're ok with this, but you can opt-out if you wish. Accept Read More