Critics Slam NBC’s Warning to ARISE News as Attack on Press Freedom
The recent warning issued by the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) to ARISE News Channel has sparked condemnations from critics who view it as an attack on press freedom. The NBC accused the television station of using offensive and inflammatory language during their broadcasts, which led to the issuance of a final warning. However, Amnesty International (AI) has criticized the federal government for stifling press freedom through regulations.
AI expressed its disapproval on its social media platform, highlighting that the government’s actions indicate an unwillingness to be held accountable. They argue that using regulations to target and influence the media undermines independent and diverse reporting. The international rights group stressed the importance of free expression and media independence as protected by international law, urging Nigerian authorities to stop silencing media organizations like ARISE TV.
In addition to Amnesty International, Nollywood actor and legal practitioner Mr. Kenneth Okonkwo voiced his concerns. Having been mentioned disrespectfully in the letter from the Director General of NBC, Dr. Balarabe Shehu Ilelah, Okonkwo demanded a public apology for the infringement upon his fundamental right to hold views on national issues.
Okonkwo’s letter to Ilelah acknowledged the challenges the NBC Director General faces in attempting to please his employers but emphasized the unlawful nature of intimidating or manipulating media houses. He referenced a court decision stating that the NBC lacks the power to fine or sanction media outlets. Furthermore, Okonkwo highlighted his right to freedom of thought and expression as enshrined in the Nigerian constitution.
The actor went on to criticize the selective approach of the NBC, stating that when other media outlets condemned the forgery of a Jamb certificate without a court conviction, the NBC did not take action. However, when the President’s certificate was disavowed by the university, the NBC suddenly decided to address those who criticized the forged document.
The controversy surrounding the NBC’s warning to ARISE News Channel has reignited the debate on press freedom in Nigeria. Critics argue that regulations should not be used as a tool to stifle independent journalism and silence media organizations. As the issue continues to unfold, the role of the media in ensuring a free and diverse information landscape remains a crucial point of discussion.
Overall, the warning issued by the NBC has not only sparked criticism from Amnesty International but has also drawn the attention of individuals like Kenneth Okonkwo, who raise concerns about the infringement upon their right to express opinions on matters of national importance. This ongoing controversy highlights the importance of protecting press freedom and maintaining independent media in Nigeria.