Obey Court Order on DAAR Communications, Saraki Tells NBC ...As CISLAC Says Action Curtails Press Freedom - THE DAILY CRUCIBLE



Saturday, June 8, 2019

Obey Court Order on DAAR Communications, Saraki Tells NBC ...As CISLAC Says Action Curtails Press Freedom

The President of the Eighth Senate, Dr. Bukola Saraki, has called on the National Broadcasting Corporation (NBC), to immediately obey the court order granted by the Federal High Court in Abuja, which called for the maintenance of status quo as of May 31, 2019, pending the determination of a motion filed by DAAR Communications PLC, owners of Raypower Radio and African Independent Television (AIT).

Saraki, in a statement by Yusuph Olaniyonu, his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, stated that all such actions that could cast aspersions on Nigeria’s commitment to the freedom of the press must be avoided.

“On the day of the Valedictory session of the 8th Senate,  the management and the workers of AIT and DAAR Communications came to the National Assembly to air out their concerns over the purported moves to clamp down on their stations.

“As that day was the Valedictory session of the 8th Senate, we could not take action on the matter immediately and to our surprise, the premises of the broadcast station were immediately closed by the NBC.

“Regulators though necessary, must know that all such actions that give the impression of the endangering of the freedom of the press or freedom of speech cast our nation in a bad light. Such issues need to be handled in a better manner.

“Moving forward, the NBC needs to comply with the Court Order. Additionally, we must understand that this is not only about AIT, this is about Nigeria and one of its stations that is not only viewed within the country, but outside the country as well. The NBC should look at a better way to resolve the issue, even after adhering to the ruling of the court

“We must be seen to be a nation that adheres strictly to the rule of law,” Saraki stated.

Also, the Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC) urges NBC to reconsider its position on the suspension of the license of Daar Communications PLC, the parental company of AIT television and Ray Power radio station for alleged violation of broadcast rules in some of its programmes.

CISLAC said while it commends the Corporation for upholding its establishing mandate to sustain principles of equity and fairness in broadcasting content in the country, it unequivocally affirm the fundamental principles of Press Freedom that “communication and expression through various media, including printed and electronic media, especially published materials, should be considered a right to be exercised freely.”

 In a statement by Auwal Ibrahim Musa (Rafsanjani), the Executive Director, CISLAC, the body added that the suspension could undermine press freedom.

The statement reads:"We are worried that leaving the suspension to linger may undermine press freedom as media remains a vibrant tool in public enlightenment, information dissemination of both public and sectors’ policies, programmes and activities in Nigeria and beyond.

"We are not unaware of the media role in influencing public opinion, shaping political agenda, providing a link between the government and the people, while acting as the government watchdog in advancing good governance.

"We also recall the crucial importance of the media in the promotion of democracy and rule of law; just as media is indispensable for people to be informed and to effectively participate in a democracy.

"We call on the Corporation, as it works to promote equity and fairness in the nation’s broadcasting affairs, to urgently reverse its decision and allow the principles of press freedom and democracy to come to bear.

"We further encourage the media to maintain fairness, abide by professional ethics and ensure high moral standards in content development and presentation to the public."

Jane Okafor, Abuja



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