From George Onyejiuwa, Owerri
The president of the National Association of Veteran Media Practitioners of Nigeria, Ben Osuagwu, has condemned the closure of Ozisa FM Radio station, the Owerri Archdiocesan Catholic Radio station, by the Nigerian Broadcasting Commission (NBC).
Osuagwu described the closure of the Ozisa Radio station as highly provocative and unwarranted adding that the way and manner the NBC hurriedly shut down the Station portends grave danger to the future of the Broadcast industry in Nigeria.
Mr Osuagwu noted that the NBC acted hurriedly without proper investigation, due process and above all primitively without considering the guidelines and set standards.
He said that “following the news of the Awomama massacre of 14 youths who went for one of their brother’s traditional wedding alleged to have been murdered by the Ebubeagu Security outfit set up by the Imo State Government, the onus lies on the NBC to conduct thorough independent investigation with the various other security outfits to find out the veracity in the report, then come up with the result of their investigation and if the report from the station is found to be false, it can use the sledgehammer on them, but if not the NBC should allow the Station to continue with its duty of informing, educating, entertaining, the people of the state.”
Continuing, he stated: “Since the people whose relations were massacred said that it was the Ebubeagu Security outfit that carried out the dastardly act, the NBC should have interviewed them and find out the truth. He said that Security Outfits are meant to protect the lives and property of their citizens and not to decimate them.”
He said that the era of unbridled clamping down on media houses has gone and smacks of unnecessary wielding of the big stick.
“Whose interest is the NBC protecting, to hide the truth, and expose falsehood?,” he queried.
Mr Osuagwu pointed out “that even if it was the DSS that murdered innocent civilians in cold blood, and the media exposed it, is it justifiable or unjustifiable? To all right-thinking citizens, media exposure to wicked, violent, and happenings in society is highly justifiable. It is when such happens that the media will be said to have lived up to its responsibilities”.
He advised the NBC to focus on international modalities and adhere strictly to international broadcast regulatory standards.
Osuagwu called for the intervention of the National Assembly to checkmate the mundane activities of the NBC aimed at gagging the media in this country. He noted that the NBC has in recent times tried to take back the media in Nigeria to the dark days of Nigeria’s military dictatorship.