SERAP

OBINNA EZUGWU

Rights group, Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), has given the National Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) 48 hours to rescind its “illegal” fines on Channels TV, Arise TV and AIT for coverage of EndSARS protests or face legal action.

The NBC had on Monday, announced N9 million fine on the three TV stations, M3 million each, for what it called “unprofessional coverage” of the EndSARS protests and the crisis that followed it.

NBC acting Director General Prof Armstrong Idachaba announced the sanction at a press conference in Abuja.

But SERAP in a statement, condemned the fine as illegal, and an attempt by the Nigerian government to silence the media.

“We condemn the illegal fines of N9m reportedly imposed by the National Broadcasting Commission on Channels TV, AIT and Arise TV [N3m each] over their coverage of the #EndSARS protests,” Serap said via its Twitter handle, @SERAPNigeria.

“We’ll sue the NBC if the unconstitutional fines are not rescinded within 48 hours. This action by the NBC is yet another example of Nigerian authorities’ push to silence independent media and voices. The NBC should drop the fines and uphold Nigerian constitution and international obligations to respect and protect freedom of expression and media freedom.

“The fines are detrimental to freedom of expression and the media, and access to information in Nigeria, and the NBC must withdraw the decision. Media freedom and media plurality are a central part of the effective exercise of freedom of expression and access to information.

“The ability to practice journalism free from undue interference, to cover peaceful protests, and critical views are crucial to the exercise of many other rights and freedoms.

“The media has a vital role to play as ‘public watchdog’ in imparting information of serious public concern and should not be inhibited or intimidated from playing that role.The NBC should stop targeting and intimidating independent media and voices.”