For the umpteenth time, the leading Civil Rights Advocacy body:- HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA) has warned the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC ) to stop obstructing citizen’s exercise of the constitutionally protected fundamental freedoms including freedom of expressions.
Besides, HURIWA said the NBC is not a court of law and should go to court of ot feels strongly that any broadcasting stations breached any extant law because it can’t be the judge, the prosecutor in its own case. The Rights group said the Courts of law as recognised in sections the only body that can determine the wrongness or rightness of any action by any person or authority and not an agency of the executive arm of government.
Against the backdrop of the reported warning letter sent to channels television by the NBC for interviewing the Benue State governor Mr. Samuel Ortom and a security expert and erstwhile Naval intelligence Chief Commodore Olakunle Olawunmi; the Rights group warned the National Broadcasting Commission to avoid taking the laws into its hand by constituting a cog in the wheel of the progressive enjoyment of rights to media freedoms.
However, in a media statement by the National Coordinator Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko and the National Media Affairs Director Miss. Zainab Yusuf, HURIWA said the National Broadcasting Commission does not have an overriding supremacy over the clear provisions of the Nigerian Constitution enshrined in chapter four and in many international legal instruments which speak to the issue of democratic freedoms.
HURIWA stated that the agency of the federal government such as the broadcasting commission set up by an inferior legal statute can not and must never be allowed to destroy the different ramifications of fundamental freedoms that citizens are entitled to just as the Rights group said that Constitutional democracy will collapse the moment the NBC is allowed to dictate to broadcasting stations who to interview and who to invite for a programme.
HURIEA recalled that the National Broadcasting Commission on Thursday queried Channels Television for granting an interview to Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State.
NBC said the move followed “inciting, divisive and unfair comments” made by the governor during a programme, ‘Sunrise Daily’ on Tuesday.
HURIWA cited sections 22 and 39 of the constitution as those finest provisions that empowers the media to act as the social vanguard of Nigeria.
Specifically, section 22 of the constitution states as follow: “The press, radio, television and other agencies of the mass media shall at all times be free to uphold the fundamental objectives contained in this Chapter and uphold the responsibility and accountability of the Government to the people.” Then section 39 (1) of the grund Norm avers thus: “(1) every person shall be entitled to freedom of expression, including freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart ideas and information without interference. “
Besides, section (1) of the constitution states thus: “(1) This Constitution is supreme and its provisions shall have binding force on the authorities and persons throughout the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”