Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has called on President Muhammadu Buhari to instruct Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, to withdraw the threat to sanction the BBC and Daily Trust over their documentaries on terrorism in the country, whether through the Nigeria Broadcasting Commission (NBC) or any other agency of government.
Mohammed had, last Thursday, said the Federal Government would sanction the BBC and Trust Tv for airing documentaries that allegedly “glorify”, “promote”, and “fuel” terrorism and banditry in Nigeria.
In a letter dated, July 30, 2022 and signed by SERAP Deputy Director, Kolawole Oluwadare, the organisation said: “Rather than punishing the media for promoting access to diverse opinions and information on issues of public importance, your government should focus on delivering your promises to ensure the security of Nigerians.
“Carrying out the threat to sanction the BBC and Daily Trust would lessen the flow of diverse viewpoints and information to the public.
“We would be grateful if the requested action is taken within 48 hours of the receipt and/or publication of this letter. If we have not heard from you by then, SERAP shall take all appropriate legal actions in the public interest.
“A free, uncensored, and unhindered press or other media is essential in any society to ensure freedom of opinion and expression and the enjoyment of other rights. It constitutes one of the cornerstones of a democratic society.
“Sanctioning the BBC and Daily Trust would be entirely inconsistent and incompatible with Nigeria’s obligations under Article 9 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
“The threat, if carried out, would impermissibly restrict the constitutional and international rights to freedom of expression, access to information, and victims’ right to justice and effective remedies that are central to public debate and accountability in a democratic society.
“Access to information is essential for the enjoyment of other human rights and freedoms and constitutes a fundamental pillar for building a democratic society and strengthening democracy.”