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PDP reps condemn notice of infraction against Channels Television

...urge Buhari to stop harassment of media

The People’s Democratic Party (PDP) caucus in the House of Representatives has condemned the reported notice of infraction against Channels Television by the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), following an interview granted the television station by the governor of Benue State, Samuel Ortom.

Governor Ortom had during an interview on the Channels Television programme “Sunrise Daily” last Tuesday said President Muhammadu Buhari’s agenda on open grazing is to ‘Fulanize’ Nigeria.

Reacting to the action of the Federal Government after the interview, the PDP lawmakers called on President Buhari to live up to his mandate to defend and protect the constitution by immediately directing all relevant organs of state to desist from any further harassment of Channels Television or any other print or electronic medial platform.

The PDP caucus in a statement by its leader, Kingsley Chinda from Rivers State said the approach of the government violates the provisions of chapter IV of the 1999 constitution which guarantees freedom of expression and, by extension, press freedom.

The legislators also called for the immediate and unconditional release of any Nigerian that may have been arrested or detained by any law enforcement agency for exercising his or her journalistic license.

The caucus observed that the said notice against Channels Television is supposedly predicated on the Nigeria Broadcasting Code and alleges, among other things, that the programme contained “inciting, divisive and unfair comments which were not thoroughly interrogated by the anchors”, contrary to the Broadcasting Code.

“We must first register our deep concern that whilst the nation drifts into a near Hobbesian state amidst the raging insecurity currently engulfing the nation, the daily carnage experienced across Benue and Plateau States and elsewhere in the country, kidnappings of innocent citizens, including school children, to the unprecedented violent attack on the Nigerian Defence Academy – one of the most hallowed symbols of Nigeria’s sovereignty.

The government of President Buhari is preoccupied with hounding perceived enemies of the administration and stifling the press, acts which are antithetical to democratic ethos.

“Certainly, there are more pressing issues demanding statecraft and leadership than the hounding of journalists and repression of the media merely on account of interviews granted by opposition figures.

“Furthermore, Nigerians would recall that the legality of the Broadcasting

Code, invoked by the NBC against Channels Television, is still a matter of

contention before the Federal High Court, Abuja Division in Suit No.: FHC/

SUIT NO: FHC/ABJ/CS/1136/2020 between Rep. Kingsley Chinda & 8 Ors (for themselves and onbehalf of the PDP Caucus House of Reps) v. Minister

of Information & 2 Ors.

“Convinced that the enactment of the 6th Amended Nigeria Broadcasting Code was an affront on the fundamental freedoms guaranteed by Chapter IV of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) and the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights, this caucus approached the Federal High Court for judicial pronouncements as to the legality or otherwise of the said Code and the validity of its application by the NBC”, the lawmakers maintained.

They, however, recalled the role played by Channels Television in foisting the current adiministration on the country and in developing what is

evidently a ‘Frankenstein monster’ through its overt bias in favour of the current ruling party before and during the 2015 elections and its well-acknowledged lopsided reportage of national events.

“The temptation to dismiss their current travails as an act of karmic justice may therefore be difficult to resist for the average Nigerian. Nonetheless, in our position as representatives of the people, we owe all Nigerians a duty to ensure we protect the democratic space with press freedom as a core pillar.

“We also owe a duty to ensure compliance with the rule of law, good governance, the preservation of law and order, fidelity to the principles of constitutionalism and the general adherence to democratic

ethos and principles in public administration throughout the length and breadth of the Federation.

“As a caucus, we must, however, express worry at the rapid descent of the country into the sort of repression and despotism experienced before the nation’s return to democracy. The assault on press freedom has reached a crescendo under this administration”, the caucus added.

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