FG To Be Dragged To Court Over N5M Fine Imposed On Channels TV For Interviewing Datti Ahmed

FG Dragged To Court Over N5million Fine Imposed On Channels TV For Interviewing Datti Ahmed

The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), has slammed the President Muhammadu Buhari administration and its “foot soldier”, the National Broadcasting Commission for slamming N5million fine on Channels TV over a recent interview with the vice presidential candidate of the Labour Party (LP), Datti Baba-Ahmed.

The non-governmental organisation vowed to sue Buhari government NBC, describing the imposition of the fine on Media station as unacceptable and negate the freedom of expression.

SERAP which stated this in a reaction to the N5 million fine imposed on the television station, wrote on its Twitter handle on Saturday, “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).”

In a March 27 letter addressed to Channels Chief Executive Officer and obtained on Friday in Abuja, the NBC said the television station violated 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 noted that the broadcast was volatile and capable of inciting public disorder and therefore violated some sections of the broadcasting code.

This, according to him, includes the section that said no broadcast shall encourage, or incite, be repugnant to public feelings or contain 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 subversion of constituted authority.

He recalled that the NBC had engaged Channels Television severally to consider public interest before any programme is broadcast.

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,” he said.

He added that any further infraction by the television station would attract higher sanctions.

“You are advised to pay within two weeks from the day of receipt of this letter or the penalty will be graduated,” the NBC Director-General said.

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