Aidoghie Paulinus, Abuja
The founder of DAAR Communications Plc, Raymond Aleogho Dokpesi, has said he will embark on a one-man protest over moves by the Federal Government to suppress free speech in the country.
The threat by the Ezomo of Weppa-Uwanno, followed two letters by the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) to sanction DAAR Communications over reports it frowned at.
The two letters, signed by NBC’s Director of Broadcast Monitoring, Armstrong Idachaba, a professor, were dated May 27, 2019, and were addressed to DAAR Communications Plc Group Managing Director.
The NBC particularly accused DAAR Communications plc of using contents from the social media in one of its programmes, Kakaaki.
In the letters, the NBC said DAAR Communications Plc, owners of African Independent Television (AIT) and Raypower 100.5FM, aired what it termed offensive, unfair and unprofessional content.
Idachaba said: “The continued use of your licence (given in trust to you on behalf of the entire Nigerian people), to embark on attacks and vilification of the regulator shall attract appropriate sanctions going forward.”
In the letters, Idachaba also said: “Monitoring reports on AIT and Raypower FM indicate that a news commentary replete with unfair allegations against the judiciary was aired from Monday, 20th May, 2019.
“This commentary was aired on the two stations during the week. The broadcast is a contravention of the provisions of the code and extant laws regarding discussion of cases pending in the law courts which could be termed as contempt of court.
“Furthermore, the language used was offensive and unfair on the judiciary. The broadcast is viewed as offensive, unfair and unprofessional, as provisions of Section 1.15.1 of the Nigerian Broadcasting Code was violated.”
The NBC also frowned at a report by DAAR Communications Plc titled “Nigeria Judiciary on Trial: Lessons from Kenya.”
While saying that DAAR Communications plc had until May 31 to respond to the letters or received the NBC’s hammer, the regulatory body said: “Your station is by this letter advised to be cautious when discussing issues relating to matters pending in the court of law and refrain from use of language inimical to the broadcast profession.”
But Dokpesi, in a statement issued in Abuja, blamed the All Progressives Congress-led Federal government for his travails.
Dokpesi said after addressing a world press conference at the DAAR Communications office in Abuja, he would hold a one-man protest to the National Assembly on Thursday, June 6, 2019 (today).
“We invite all Nigerians and the international community to note this obvious act of brigandage against freedom of speech and association as clearly expressed in our Constitution.
“AIT and Raypower have not violated any code of broadcasting as alleged by the NBC. The NBC and the government in power are not comfortable with the broadcast industry because of its courageous and dogged stance in informing Nigerians on happenings in the country,” the statement read.