The Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE) has condemned in very strong terms the indefinite suspension of the licenses of the African Independent Television, AIT, and Ray Power by the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC).
The two stations belonged to Daar Communications Limited.
A statement jointly signed on Thursday by the Guild President Funke Egbemode and Secretary Mary Atolagbe demanded in clear terms the revocation of the suspension order as it runs contrary to the ideals of free speech and the fine tenets of press freedom.
It said this is a case of Executive highhandedness and it paints our dear country in the darkest tar of dictatorship.
According to the statement, ‘’The Fourth Estate of the Realm remains the watchdog of society and any attempt to gag it in any guise is an affront on democracy and the people. The NBC must and should rescind this ignoble and despicable decision.’’
The Guild strongly believes the NBC action is a draconian forms of regulation, being out of tune with democratic principles.
‘’The Guild is concerned about the violation of the constitutional rights of DAAR Communications and absence of media freedom, independence and the stifling of operations of media outfits which are preforming their roles as the watchdog of the Nigerian society, ‘’said the statement.
‘’The NGE condemns in strong terms the barbaric crackdown on the broadcast outfit and demands immediate cessation of this atrocious repression and excessive show of power by the NBC, whose duty is to regulate and not kill the media.’’
‘’ Muzzling the media and throwing thousands of Nigerians into the already saturated labour market should not be the trophy for good corporate governance of a regulator; it is something to be ashamed of and NBC should be ashamed at its action in a fledgling democracy in the 21st Century.’’
The Guild is strongly of the opinion that the NBC, in exercising its regulatory powers, should concentrate on implementing policies that will position Nigeria’s broadcasting to compete in the global spheres, rather than engage in witch-hunting and unnecessary show of excessive force.
The NGE appeals to President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR, to use his good offices to call NBC to order.
Meanwhile, The Nigeria Union of Journalists says it is alarmed at the closure of AIT by the National Broadcasting Commission and believes that the action portends grave danger for Free Press and Independent Media.
Independent and Pluralistic Media in a democracy like Nigeria serve to promote democracy by their dissemination of authentic information and ensuring transparency in governance.
A statement issued by NUJ President Chris Isiguzo condemned this closure over allegations of breach of 2004 Broadcasting Code and insist there are better ways of sanctioning media organisations that are found to have erred.
It said it will be helpful if the NBC will immediately reopen AIT to ensure that they continue to promote debate and opinions on issues that are of societal, economic and political importance to the nation. We expect them to do the needful in 24-hours.