The Abuja School of Social and Political Thought (ASSPT) has raised an alarm that Nigeria is heading for another round of media censorship over the controversy surrounding President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s certificates from the Chicago State University (CSU).
The ASSPT Director, Dr Sam Amadi; and Media Scholar and Research Fellow Mr Paul Obi at a media parley in Abuja, said a recent National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) letter to Arise News Television is despicable, undemocratic and autocratic.
They noted that when Nigeria chose the pathway to democracy and subsequently abided by the canons of democracy all through the years, the country unequivocally pledged to adhere to the basic principles of democracy, including freedom, media rights, and freedom of expression, free speech, civil and fundamental human rights.
Amadi said that at the very core of those rights that are constitutionally bequeathed to and bestowed on the media, media organisations and journalists alike in Section 22 and Section 39 of the Nigerian 1999 Constitution.
“It is for these reasons that the antics and antecedents of the NBC in recent times have been worrisome, shocking and if not, injurious to Nigeria’s democracy. In its recent activities not in support of democratic governance, the NBC has acted as if it is ferociously scared of certain facts and truth.
“We find the recent threats and warning by the NBC on Arise News as an indication of the decay of our democracy and smacks of partisan overzealousness of a regulatory agency that was and is strategically meant to serve Nigerians. Rather, NBC as acted as if it is an appendage, and overzealous pleaser of the Presidency and top echelon of Nigerian power strata,” Amadi said.
On his part, Paul Obi said that while the Abuja School is not holding brief for any individual, organisations, institutions or have an agenda, the school found the reasons the NBC relied upon to issue a warning to Arise News as undemocratic, autocratic and unconstitutional.
He said, “By sending a threat letter to Arise News titled: ‘Preponderance of Derogatory and Incendiary Remarks: Final Warning’ the NBC exposed itself in a fishing expedition to please the egos of the Presidency, the ruling class and shield them from the democratic tenets of accountability and transparency.
“For the NBC to have stated that the Arise News ‘programme contained unguarded incendiary remarks by Dele Farotimi against the legislature, executive, judiciary and Mr President’ is indicative of the complete derailment of its statutory obligation to the Nigerian state and its people.
He, therefore, urged the NBC to immediately withdraw the letter and for all media organisations and well-meaning Nigerians to resist any attempt by the NBC or any organisation to gag and censor the media in whatever form, including seeking legal redress from the law courts.