The International Press Centre on Wednesday expressed disappointment with the National Broadcasting Commission over the N5m fine slammed on Trust TV after a documentary on the state of insecurity in the country titled ‘Nigeria’s banditry: The inside story.’
The IPC, in a statement by its Press Freedom Officer, Melody Lawal, described the imposition as ‘arbitrary fine.’
She reminded the Federal Government, the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed; and the NBC that the banditry ravaging Nigeria and daily putting the lives and property of the citizens in jeopardy was not a creation of the media.
Apart from Trust TV, the NBC also fined NTA Startimes Nigeria Limited, DSTV, Telecom Satellite Limited N5m each for airing BBC Africa Eye’s documentary titled, “Bandits warlords of Zamfara.”
In a statement on Wednesday by its Director General, Balarabe Illela, the commission accused them of glorifying the activities of bandits as well as undermining national security.
Illela said the fines are to be remitted not later than August 30, 2022, adding that failure to comply will lead to the imposition of a higher sanction.
However, the IPC called on the Broadcasting Organisation of Nigeria, Nigerian Guild of Editors, the Nigeria Union of Journalists and other professional bodies championing freedom of the press and freedom of expression in the country to “rise in unison in condemnation of this new development and hostility by the government.”
“In the circumstance, the IPC considers the fine imposed on Trust TV an act of injustice, an assault on media freedom and a violation of the right of the people to know the truth about the dynamics of banditry in the country and the decision should therefore be reversed”, the statement quoted the Executive Director of IPC, Lanre Arogundade, as saying.
“It is unacceptable that NBC, funded by tax payers money and expected to act in the public interest, would continuously exhibit the symptoms of the government attack dog once the Information Minister blows the whistle,” the statement added.