The National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) on September 25, 2019 threatened to sanction the privately-owned Africa Independent Television (AIT) over what it termed consistent and blatant violations of the 6th edition of the Nigeria Broadcasting Code.
The NBC’s Director-General, Mallam Is’haq Modibbo-Kawu, disclosed this during a press confereknce in Abuja where he said AIT defied all action to ensure that the station complies with the Nigeria Broadcasting Code.
He said that despite AIT’s suspension in June and the resolution of the issues the subsequent afterwards following the intervention of the Nigerian Press Organisation and other relevant stakeholders, the station has continued to violate the Broadcasting Code.
The NBC DG said the Commission’s monitoring reports indicated that AIT continued to air programmes that dwell on the on-going case of the presidential elections, and issues relating to matters in law courts, without regards to the provisions of the Code.
Citing broadcasts he considered to be breaches of the Code, he said: “On Monday 19th August to Sunday August 25, 2019, the station aired different documentaries centered on matters before the 2019 Presidential Election Tribunal; the action was prejudicial and could be termed contempt of court.
“Specifically, on Monday 19th August, 2019 a documentary titled “Who is a Nigerian” was aired between 10:00pm to 10:47pm. It centered on how the former provinces of Northern Cameroun became a Nigerian enclave.
“Track ups were given to some respondents who made statements like “Atiku is indeed a Nigerian”. This came a day after the APC had asked the Presidential Election tribunal to strike out Atiku/PDP petition on the basis of Section 131(a) of the Nigerian Constitution, which mandates that a presidential candidate must be Nigerian by birth.
“On Tuesday 20th August, 2019 between 10:00pm to 11:00pm, AIT aired another documentary titled “The Many Troubles of INEC: A Documentary on Mahmood Yakubu and the chequered Road to 2019”.
Expatiating further, Is’haq said “This documentary contained an allegation that the 2019 Presidential Election was marred by a well-organised manipulation, violence and intimidations. It alleged that some actions taken by INEC were premeditated and schemed to favour the APC. It ended with Atiku’s petition seeking relief to be declared winner of the 2019 Presidential election on the nullification of the election.”
He further stated that the Commission had seen several materials on different social media platforms accusing the NBC of inability to reign-in on AIT in its persistent breaches of the Nigeria Broadcasting Code.
He added that AIT aired programmes where it questioned the citizenship of President Buhari; promoted the cause of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) saying their agitation is legitimate; and smeared the independence of the Nigerian judiciary and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
Kawu said “These actions of AIT are in contravention of Sections 1.3.4, 3.3.1a, 3.3.1b, 3.11.1, 3.11.2 and 5.1.2 of the Nigeria Broadcasting Code,’’ adding the Commission does not relate with any of its licensees outside of the provisions of the Nigeria Broadcasting Code.
He therefore warned that: “AIT’s continuous willful disregard for regulation and persistent breaches of the Nigeria Broadcasting Code will be met with the very severe sanctions that the new, Sixth Edition of the Code has prescribed.”
He disclosed that the NBC had given AIT enough opportunity to “walk the straight and narrow path of compliance with the Nigeria Broadcasting Code,” adding “AIT may, unfortunately, be the architect of its own fate, if it persists with the breaches of the instrument of regulation of the Nigerian broadcasting industry. And that is the Nigeria Broadcasting Code.”