Leading rights group, the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, SERAP, has asked the government of President Muhammadu Buhari and the National Broadcasting Commission, NBC, to immediately reverse the arbitrary, unconstitutional and illegal decision to suspend Channels Television, and to impose a fine of N5 million on the station purportedly for breaching the broadcast code.”
According to reports in the mainstream and online media, the Acting Director General of the Commission, NBC, Professor Armstrong Idachaba, in a letter to the Managing Director of Channels Television referred to Channels 7pm live broadcast programme of Sunday, 25th April, 2021, in which it accused the TV station of interviewing a leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, allegedly without “caution or reprimand.”
SERAP in a statement on Monday, April 26, 2021, by its deputy director Kolawole Oluwadare said:
“The suspension of Channels Television is unconstitutional, illegal, arbitrary and without any legal basis whatsoever.
“The government and NBC should immediately lift the suspension and reverse the fine. We will pursue appropriate legal action if the arbitrary, unconstitutional and illegal suspension and fine are not reversed within 48 hours.”
SERAP further said, “this action by the government and NBC is yet another example of Nigerian authorities’ push to silence independent media and voices. The government and NBC lift the suspension and uphold the Nigerian Constitution 1999 as amended and international obligations to respect and protect freedom of expression and media freedom.
The statement, read in part: “this is a new low in Nigeria’s protection of freedom of expression and the ability of independent media to function in the country. The suspension of Channels Television is detrimental to media freedom and access to information and the Federal Government and NBC must immediately reverse the decision.”