NUJ, NBC knock Zamfara government over closure of broadcast stations
Some stakeholders in the media have faulted the decision of the Zamfara State government to shut down the federal government and privately owned broadcast stations in the state.
PREMIUM TIMES reported that the stations including NTA, Pride FM, Gamji TV and Al’umma TV were closed for disobeying an Executive Order not to air political activities in the state.
In a statement on Sunday, the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), which regulates broadcast stations in the country, declared the state government’s action illegal and asked it to be reversed.
The statement was signed by the Director General of the Commission, Balarabe Illela.
“National Broadcasting Commission has noted with serious concern the illegal action of Zamfara State Government by directing the shutdown of operations of licensees of the Commission in the State, on Saturday, October 15, 2022,” Illela said in the statement.
“The NBC has clearly notified the State Government of the gravity of the illegality and requested it to expeditiously reverse the directive and apologise to the people of the State.
“We also urge the security agencies to ignore the call to restrict staff of the affected stations from conducting their legitimate duties.
“The Commission wishes to further emphasise that it will resist ANY attempt to cause a breach of law and order ANYWHERE through the misuse of the broadcast media in Nigeria, before, during and after the 2023 national elections.
“We call on ALL industry stakeholders to resist ANY attempt to truncate the hard-earned democratic gains in Nigeria,” Illela said.
The NBC advised persons or institutions who have grievances against broadcast stations to follow due process.
An embarrassing error
Meanwhile, the Nigerian Union of Journalists NUJ has described the decision as an embarrassing error.
The union called on the state government to quickly rescind the ban so that the press can perform its functions accordingly.
The statement, signed by the union’s National Secretary, Shuaibu Leman, said the media has a role in monitoring security agencies and ensuring that the public is updated.
“For a state government to arbitrarily override a section of the Nigerian Constitution and the National Broadcasting Commission NBC code, in a democracy like ours, which recognizes the role of mass media, and the freedom of expression for its citizens, speaks volumes of the level of impunity the country has descended into,” the statement said.
Leman cautioned that the decision by the state government could “aggravate the already fragile nature of security in the state.”
The Northern Broadcast Media Owners Association also faulted the decision in a statement signed by its acting chairman, Abdullahi Yelwa.
The association said it received the news of the closure with shock and disbelief.
Yelwa said the directive to security agencies to deny journalists access to their offices was unconstitutional and illegal.
“The job of the media, the world over, is constitutionally guaranteed just like the right of citizens to freely express themselves. The Nigerian press has survived the evil of colonialism and the dark draconian military days. It’s ironic therefore for it now to be threatened with closure under the democratic dispensation it helped to bequeathe,” he said.
Yelwa called on the police authorities in the state to protect journalists against attack.
“There is however the palpable fear that the affected stations stand the risk of being attacked by agents of the Zamfara state government for simply carrying out their constitutional mandate. It’s therefore expedient on the police command in Zamfara state to offer them protection,” he said. Premium Times