The Media Rights Agenda, MRA, has urged the National Assembly to launch an investigation into the regulatory activities of the National Broadcasting Commission, NBC.
MRA accused the agency of succumbing to a “partisan” Minister of Information to cow broadcasting stations in Nigeria to prevent them from criticizing government officials and powerful politicians.
A statement on Monday by Programme Officer Maimuna Momoh condemned the latest imposition of N2 million fine each on two television stations, Arise News and Television Continental, TVC.
Momoh described the action as the latest in a pattern by the NBC of abusing its powers to repress broadcasters in violation of basic rules of natural justice.
MRA maintains it is not fair that NBC, which wrote the Broadcasting Code, to be the complainant of violations, investigate alleged breaches, prosecute the accused stations, and sit in judgment on the matter.
The organisation lamented stations are not given the opportunity to defend themselves against allegations but are sanctioned through fines, “an affront to principles of fair hearing, equity and justice”.
Noting that NBC’s behaviour has reached alarming levels, MRA believes the agency is either being used for revenue generation or as a weapon to impede stations from demanding responsibility and accountability of the government to the people.
The statement said it is ironic and outright dangerous that NBC is seeking to enforce truth and objectivity in the outputs of broadcasting stations “while taking directives from a partisan Minister of Information”.
“If the NBC is not deterred from this its approach to regulations, Nigerians will be fed only the Minister’s version of the truth, thereby defeating the purpose of Section 22 of the Constitution.”
Momoh stressed that the principle guiding the operations of an authority regulating broadcasters should be independent and adequately protected against the interference of a political, commercial or other nature.