Aidoghie Paulinus, Abuja
Director–general of the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), Is’haq Modibbo Kawu, yesterday disclosed the readiness of the commission to sanction some television stations in the country over hate speech.
The affected stations, according to Kawu, are the Africa Independent Television (AIT), Channels Television, Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) and Television Continental (TVC). Kawu said letters to the affected organisations notifying them about the sanctions have already been written.
He noted that there were new entries in the Nigerian Broadcasting Code, adding that the sixth edition of the code contained very strong entries about hate and dangerous speech and the consequence of such broadcasting in the country.
Kawu further said, with the commencement of electioneering for the 2019 general election on October 18, based on the guidelines of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), the national stations became agog with sponsored live rallies by political parties, particularly the two main parties, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the All Progressives Congress (APC).
He said NBC observed again through monitoring of the stations that politicians have refused to learn from mistakes of the past, despite efforts of the NBC to sensitise and remind them of their responsibilities.
He said: “We monitored live rallies and campaigns of the parties, and, in recent times, live political rallies of political parties have been laced with indecent and abusive languages or language, name-calling and vehement allegations and use of hate speech.
“For instance, on January 10, 2019, at the presidential campaign rally of the PDP broadcast by the AIT, the national chairman of the party accused INEC of rigging previous elections and threatened crisis if election is rigged in 2019. Some of the excerpts were: ‘We want to warn INEC, all the previous elections you rigged and you escaped, the 2019 elections, you cannot escape unless you want to cause crisis in Nigeria. Let us warn Professor Yakubu: If you want to cause crisis in Nigeria, rig the election. If you want peace, elections must be free and fair.’ That is from the PDP.
“At a live APC governorship rally held on Friday, January 3, 2019, and aired on NTA, a stalwart of the APC, Rotimi Amaechi, was quoted as saying: ‘I will just continue to say the truth. One of the truths I will tell you is that they are telling Nigerians that Nigerians are hungry. Indeed, if Nigerians are hungry, if these people left money they stole, will Nigerians be hungry? Exactly the $2 billion that they stole; at least, I know about that one, we will not be here today.’
“The party chairman also added: ‘You must remember that the last PDP government turned Plateau workers to slaves and so on and so forth.’
“The expressions and languages in the excerpts captured can be seen to be abusive and not descent for broadcast, contrary to certain sections of the Nigerian Broadcasting Code: 525, 533.
“So, based on the foregoing, the four main channels that have been broadcasting, AIT, TVC, Channels TV and NTA, were culpable and contravened the provisions of the code on political broadcast, in line with the provisions