House Minority Caucus frowns at seeming clampdown of media - AFRICAN PARLIAMENTARY NEWS



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Saturday, August 28, 2021

House Minority Caucus frowns at seeming clampdown of media

The Minority Caucus in Nigeria’s House of Representatives has frowned at the federal government’s growing clampdown on the media as well as the lack of professionalism and neutrality on the part of the regulatory agency under the All Progressives Congress (APC)-led government.

The caucus said its position was predicated on the query issued Channels Television by the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) and the invitation of some presenters of the television outfit to the headquarters of the Commission on Thursday, over some recent interviews conducted on the station’s morning show, Sunrise Daily.

This was contained in a statement issued on Friday by the leader of the caucus, Rt. Hon. Ndudi Elumelu, where he berated the federal government over unwarranted harassment of Channels Television and its staff.

The caucus noted that this development smacked of another toxic push against press freedom and the citizens right to know, contrary to the provisions of the 1999 Constitution as amended.

According to the statement, “The Minority Caucus frowns at the growing clampdown on the media as well as the lack of professionalism and neutrality on the part of the regulatory agency under the All Progressives Congress (APC)-led federal government.

“As lawmakers, we hold that rather than try to muffle the media, the broadcast regulator should have directed the television station to avail the federal government the opportunity to refute, with facts, the statements of Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State during the Sunrise Daily programme, which it considered critical or misrepresentation of the government.”

The caucus described the invitation of Channels Television presenters to NBC’s headquarters in Abuja, the query of television outfit, and the unrelenting intimidation of independent broadcast media outfits by the NBC as most inauspicious.

It said Section 14 (2) (b) of the 1999 Constitution was very clear that the security of lives and property is the primary purpose of government, saying that the same constitution also vests all the security agencies and legitimate instruments of coercion solely in the federal government.

It stated: “Therefore, when criminal cartels freely prowl and plunder the citizens, with the federal government showing manifest failure to step up to discharge its constitutional obligations, why should any reasonable government try to muffle the media in their constitutional role in the collective effort to salvage the situation, including the carnage going on in Benue State?

“The Minority Caucus points the federal government to the call by the governor of Mr, President’s home state, Rt. Hon. Bello Masari, on people of Katsina State to defend themselves, and wonders how such is different from the attempt by Governor Ortom to hold the federal government to account on the failure to check the killings in his state. Both confirm the total breakdown of security in the land.”

The caucus insisted that when bloody bandits and terrorists find their way into an elite military training institution like the Nigerian Defence Academy (NDA), it presupposes nothing else but a brutal violation of the country’s sovereignty and an unedited collapse of government and security.

Accordingly, the caucus noted that the federal government should take steps to reassure the people rather than trying to muffle information.

As a representative of the people, the Minority Caucus reminded NBC of the need to stick to professionalism and patriotism in the discharge of its duties.

The caucus also called on the federal government to desist from engaging in activities that give the citizens the impression that it is always trying to cover up facts.

It added that NBC should not promote the suppression of the truth and it should bear in mind that there cannot be any NBC without Nigeria.

The caucus said it was also high time the NBC eschewed partisanship and also understood that regulation does not presuppose the suppression of truth, but the promotion of it.


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