Media Rights Agenda (MRA), has urged the National Assembly (NASS) to commence full scale investigation into the regulatory activities of the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), accusing it of succumbing to the control of government.
MRA said in a statement issued in Lagos that it was compelled to seek the intervention of the National Assembly in the light of Friday’s imposition of fines of N2 million each on two television stations, Arise News and Television Continental (TVC), by the NBC for alleged breach of the Nigeria Broadcasting Code, describing 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’s programme officer, Ms Maimuna Momoh said: “It cannot be fair or just that the NBC, which wrote the Nigeria Broadcasting Code to create offences, is the complainant in the allegations of violation of the code by broadcasting stations, investigates the alleged breaches itself, prosecutes the accused stations, sits in judgment on the matter, frequently without even giving the stations any opportunity to defend themselves against the allegations, sanctions them through the imposition of fines, which it collects as part of its revenue.
‘’This is clearly an affront to principles of fair hearing, equity and justice.”
In separate letters dated February 3, 2023, signed by NBC director-general, Mallam Balarabe llelah, to the chief executive officer of Arise Global Media Limited, owners of Arise News, and the chief executive officer of Continental Broadcasting Service Limited, owners of TVC, the commission accused them of violating the broadcasting code in their coverage of political campaigns and gave each of them two weeks to pay a penalty of N2 million.
MRA condemned the action saying this pattern of behaviour by the commission has reached alarming levels as, in most cases, it is either being used as a weapon by the information and culture minister to impede broadcasting stations from performing their constitutional role of upholding the responsibility and accountability of the government to the people or it is on its own turning its regulatory function into a revenue drive, and in both cases, frequently dispensing with the imperative of giving accused stations the opportunity to defend themselves.