The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project has asked the National Broadcasting Corporation to withdraw the N3m fine imposed on broadcast stations over the coverage of the #ENDSARS protests in the country.
SERAP gave the NBC 48-hours to reverse the decision or risk legal actions.
NBC had fined Arise Television, Channels Television and African Independent Television for their coverage of the protest especially the killing of protesters at Lekki, Lagos, by the Nigerian Army.
— Sahara Reporters (@SaharaReporters) October 26, 2020
The NBC Acting Director-General, Prof Armstrong Idachaba, announced the sanction at a press conference in Abuja on Monday as he also warned that stiffer sanction could follow.
Reacting to the sanction, SERAP in a tweet described as unconstitutional the fine imposed on the media organisations.
The rights group also accused the Nigerian Government of using broadcast regulation to silence independent media.
SERAP said, “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.
“We’ll sue the NBC if the unconstitutional fines are not rescinded within 48 hours.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.”
Recall that in a censorship move, the NBC had warned all broadcast stations not to report the #ENDSARS protest in a way that would embarrass the government.