The Nigerian Guild of Editors has risen in stout objection to the N5m fine imposed on Channels Television and Inspiration FM by the National Broadcasting Commission, NBC, for alleged infractions, describing the fines as punitive, arbitrary and against press freedom.
Rejecting the fines, the Guild in statement jointly signed by the President, Mustapha Isah and General Secretary, Mary Atolagbe, said the NBC is punishing Channels TV for interviewing the spokesman of the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB while Inspiration FM is facing the hammer of NBC for broadcasting a statement by IPOB, declaring a sit-at-home order.
The statement reads in part: “Once again, the NBC has played the role of an accuser, the prosecutor and the judge. In a democratic country like ours, a panel should have been set up to investigate the alleged infractions, with both stations given the opportunity for defence.
The National Broadcasting Code is clearly at variance with the tenets of democracy anchored on freedom of expression and a free press.
Every accused person or organisation deserves fair hearing before punishment is pronounced. Obtaining letters of apology from the affected stations under duress cannot justify the action of the NBC.”
According to Guild, the Voice of America, VOA, Hausa Service, recently interviewed the leader of a terrorist group behind the abduction of 22 students of Greenfield University, Kaduna State. In that interview, the terrorists threatened to kill the remaining students in their custody if N100 million was not paid within 24 hours.