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Sunday, May 26, 2024

MRA Calls on National Assembly to Investigate Regulatory Activities on NBC

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Lagos: Media Rights Agenda (MRA) today urged the National Assembly to launch an investigation into the regulatory activities of the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), accusing it of succumbing to the control of an overtly politically partisan Minister of Information to cow broadcasting stations in Nigeria in an effort to prevent them from criticizing government officials and powerful political figures.
MRA said in a statement issued in Lagos that it was compelled to seek the intervention of the National Assembly in the light of Friday’s imposition of fines of N2 million each on two television stations, Arise News and Television Continental (TVC), by the NBC for alleged breach of the Nigeria Broadcasting Code, describing the action as the latest in a pattern by the NBC of abusing its powers to repress broadcasters in violation of basic rules of natural justice.
MRA’s Programme Officer, Ms. Maimuna Momoh, noted in the statement that “It cannot be fair or just that the NBC, which wrote the Nigeria Broadcasting Code to create offenses, is the complainant in the allegations of violation of the Code by broadcasting stations, investigates the alleged breaches itself, prosecutes the accused stations, sits in judgment on the matter, frequently without even giving the stations any opportunity to defend themselves against the allegations, sanctions them through the imposition of fines, which it collects as part of its revenue. This is clearly an affront to principles of fair hearing, equity, and justice.”
According to her, “If the NBC is not deterred from this approach to regulations, Nigerians will be fed only the Minister’s version of the truth, thereby defeating the purpose of Section 22 of the Constitution.”
Ms. Momoh stressed that “An established principle guiding the operations of a regulatory authority exercising powers in the area of broadcasting is that it should be independent and adequately protected against the interference of a political, commercial or other nature.
Contrary to this internationally established norm, the Minister of Information continues to interfere in the regulatory functions of NBC and frequently deploys it as a weapon with which he prevents broadcasting stations from performing their duty to uphold the responsibility and accountability of the Government to the people or for punishing those that dare to do so”
She, therefore, called on the National Assembly, in the exercise of its oversight functions, to conduct an open and transparent investigation into the NBC and the conduct of its regulatory functions in order to prevent it from completely destroying the broadcast sector in Nigeria.

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