Title: Nigerian Government Faces Backlash over Attempt to Control Media, Condemned by Human Rights Groups
Leading human rights groups in Nigeria, including the Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) and Amnesty International (AI), have strongly criticized the Nigerian government’s recent move to stifle freedom of the press through the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC). This attempt to control the media, particularly targeting Arise News Television, has raised concerns about the state of democracy and free speech in the country.
HURIWA cautioned the NBC against acting as an agency of fascism and urged them not to be manipulated by individuals with anti-democratic agendas. The group reminded the NBC that the Nigerian Constitution, as the supreme law of the land, should be prioritized over the interests of public office holders. They emphasized that the constitution guarantees freedom of information, a right that should not be undermined by an inferior legislative template used to establish the NBC.
Citing Section 22 of the Nigerian Constitution, HURIWA highlighted the vital role of the media in functioning as the vanguard and conscience of the nation, monitoring the behavior of public institutions and office holders. The group underscored the importance of upholding the rule of law, respecting constitutional rights, and adhering to international human rights treaties that Nigeria is a party to.
Furthermore, HURIWA spoke out against the NBC’s persistent efforts to curtail the fundamental human rights of Nigerians. They criticized the commission’s attempts to mimic past authoritarian regimes, such as Mussolini’s fascism in Italy or North Korea’s absolute tyranny, by suppressing opposing views and critical voices. HURIWA called on all Nigerians to actively resist these actions in order to protect democracy from being undermined.
Meanwhile, Amnesty International joined the condemnation of the NBC’s actions, particularly their issuing of a final warning to Arise Television for alleged use of derogatory and incendiary remarks. Amnesty International sees this move as evidence that the Nigerian authorities are seeking to silence media organizations and avoid accountability. The human rights organization emphasized the importance of independent and diverse media in preserving people’s right to information and called on the government to cease such attempts to muzzle the press.
The backlash against the Nigerian government’s attempts to control the media highlights growing concerns about the erosion of democratic principles and the stifling of free speech in the country. With civil society organizations and international human rights groups united in their condemnation, it remains to be seen how the government will respond to these criticisms and whether they will take steps to protect and uphold the principles of democracy and freedom of the press.
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