Clampdown on AIT/Raypower shameful, barbaric, says editors’ guild

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In strong words, the Nigerian Guild of Editors has condemned the Federal Government clampdown on independent media outfit, Daar Communication Limited.

Daar Communications own the African Independent Television (AIT) and Raypower radios

Both stations were on Thursday shut indefinitely by industry regulators, the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), over alleged serial airing of hate speeches and incitement of the government.

The Guild, in a statement signed by its president Funke Egbemode, and secretary Mary  Atolagbe, faulted the reasons cited by the NBC for its action. It demanded the immediate reopening of the studios.

The statement reads:

“The Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE) hereby condemns in very strong terms the indefinite suspension of the licences of the African Independent Television, AIT, and Ray Power by the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC). The two stations belonged to Daar Communications Limited.

“The Guild demands in clear terms the revocation of the suspension order as it runs contrary to the ideals of free speech and the fine tenets of press freedom. This is a case of Executive highhandedness and it paints our dear country in the darkest tar of dictatorship.

“The Fourth Estate of the Realm remains the watchdog of society and any attempt to gag it in any guise is an affront on democracy and the people. The NBC must and should rescind this ignoble and despicable decision.

“The Guild strongly believes the NBC action is a draconian form of regulation, being out of tune with democratic principles.

“The Guild is concerned about the violation of the constitutional rights of DAAR Communications and absence of media freedom, independence and the stifling of operations of media outfits which are performing their roles as the watchdog of the Nigerian society.

“The NGE condemns in strong terms the barbaric crackdown on the broadcast outfit and demands immediate cessation of this atrocious repression and excessive show of power by the NBC, whose duty is to regulate and not kill the media.

“Muzzling the media and throwing thousands of Nigerians into the already saturated labour market should not be the trophy for good corporate governance of a regulator; it is something to be ashamed of and NBC should be ashamed at its action in a fledgling democracy in the 21st Century.

“The Guild is strongly of the opinion that the NBC, in exercising its regulatory powers, should concentrate on implementing policies that will position Nigeria’s broadcasting to compete in the global spheres, rather than engage in witch-hunting and unnecessary show of excessive force.

“The Guild hereby expresses its solidarity with the AIT/Raypower family, urging the staff and management to remain calm as the Guild liaises with well meaning Nigerians and other media professionals to get justice.

“The NGE appeals to President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR, to use his good offices to call NBC to order.

” It  is to be recalled that NBC had, before the 2019 general election, shut down Joy FM in Jos for violations of the broadcasting code. Last year, the NBC shut down Ekiti Radio/TV station. Shutting down stations and withdrawing licences are too extreme in the circumstance. There must be humane and saner ways to resolve disputes bordering on violation of the Broadcasting Code.”

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