Nigeria to Sanction Any Broadcast That Insults President Buhari, Governors, Senators
Nigeria’s National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) has threatened to sanction broadcast stations over messages that “insult” Nigerian leaders and elders, such as the country’s President, Muhammadu Buhari, state governors and senators.
In a letter to broadcast stations, Chibuike Ogwumike, zonal director of the NBC Lagos office, warned against such messages from guests during radio programmes.
The letter, dated August 3, has surfaced online.
Ogwumike referred broadcasters to sections of the NBC code that provides for “professional rules” against content that “denigrates the social norms, values and culture of the society”.
“Monitoring activities indicate that in the recent time, some broadcast stations have abdicated their editorial responsibilities such that guests and callers on programmes abuse and insult leaders and those in authority freely and without caution,” he said.
“May I please draw your attention to the following provisions of the Broadcasting Code: Section 3.1.: Professional Rules: 3.1.1: No broadcast shall encourage or incite to crime, lead to public disorder or hate, be repugnant to public feelings or contain an offensive reference to any person or organization, alive or dead or generally be disrespectful to human dignity.
“Also, 3.1.19: The broadcast shall not transmit content that denigrates the social norms, values and culture of the society.”
The NBC said while it understands that broadcasters have a duty to hold government and leaders accountable, “this must not be done in abusive language”.
“To denigrate our elders and leaders in abusive terms is not our culture. We respect our leaders as a positive cultural value,” it added.
“We expect Broadcasters, especially anchors to show professionalism in the handling of programmes such that guest or callers that exhibit such tendency are professionally handled.
“The recourse to abusing, denigrating and insulting the President, Governors, MPs and other leaders does not show us as cultured people.”
The letter came to light amid the controversy generated by the new NBC code recently launched in Lagos, and which has been condemned as targeting press freedom.
Recall that in June 2019, Ohimai Amaize, broadcaster with Africa Independent Television (AIT) fled Nigeria to exile in the United States over concerns he was going to be arrested and framed by the State Security Service (SSS), with treason and incitement charges for presenting Kakaaki Social, a TV show that curated the comments of Nigerians on social media on issues of public interest.
Amaize’ exit from Nigeria followed a letter from the NBC accusing the programme of “treasonable rhetoric and incitement.” Amaize denies the accusations, describing them as an attempt by the Muhammadu Buhari regime to intimidate journalists and stifle freedom of expression. He was granted asylum in the United States in January 2020.
Among those that have kicked against the NBC’s new code is Tonnie Iredia, former director-general of the Nigeria Television Authority (NTA), who accused Lai Mohammed, minister of information, of hijacking NBC powers.
He said the NBC code, which was supposed to be a professional guide and masterpiece that promotes professional excellence in broadcasting is now “filled with sanctions and what you will do and not do.”
The NBC is silent on what parameters it hopes to employ in determing what is “hate speech” or what could be termed “abusive language” and “disrespect for elders” in the Nigerian context.
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