A civil society group, the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), has threatened to file a suit against President Muhammadu Buhari’s government and its agency, the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) for slamming Channels TV with a N5 million fine over a recent interview with the vice presidential candidate of the Labour Party (LP), Yusuf Datti Baba-Ahmed.
SERAP disclosed this via its Twitter handle on Saturday in reaction to the N5 million fine imposed on Channels Television station.
The Civil rights organisation vowed to sue the Buhari government NBC, describing the sanction on the Media station as inappropriate and against the freedom of expression.
“We’re suing the Buhari administration and NBC over the arbitrary and unlawful fine of N5 million imposed on Channels TV for a recent interview with Datti Baba-Ahmed, vice presidential candidate of the Labour Party (LP).”
Prime Business Africa had reported that NBC which is a government agency in its attempt to silence the media slammed a N5 million fine on Channels Television over an interview with Baba-Ahmed.
Notice of the fine on the Tv station was contained in a letter dated 27th, March 2023 which was addressed to Channels Television Chief Executive Officer and obtained on Friday in Abuja.
NBC in the letter accused the television station of violating the broadcasting code.
Titled, “Broadcast of an Inciting Interview, A Sanction”, the letter was signed by Balarabe Ilelah, the commission’s Director-General.
It read in part: “The NBC monitored the broadcast of a live interview of the running mate of the Labour Party Vice presidential candidate, Dr Datti Baba-Ahmed, by the anchor of Politics Today, Seun Okinbaloye, on Wednesday, March 22.
“Dr Baba-Ahmed said it will be unconstitutional to swear in an elected president on May 29, 2023, because of election irregularities,” Ilelah said in the letter.
He stated that the broadcast was volatile and capable of inciting public disorder and therefore violated some sections of the broadcasting code.
According to him, the comment violates the section that said no broadcast shall encourage, or incite, be repugnant to public feelings or contain an offensive reference to any person or organisation, alive or dead or generally be disrespectful to human dignity.
Ilelah added that according to the broadcasting code, broadcasters shall ensure that no programme contained anything which amounted to the subversion of constituted authority.
This, he said, was to ensure that the country was not plunged into anarchy.
“Consequently, on the following infractions, Channels Television is hereby sanctioned and shall pay a penalty of N5,000,000 (five million naira) only in the first instance.”
“You are advised to pay within two weeks from the day of receipt of this letter or the penalty will be graduated,” he added.