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Nigerian Press Under Siege: HURIWA Slams Broadcasting Commission for Intimidating Media Houses

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ABUJA, Nigeria — The Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria, HURIWA, has strongly advised the National Broadcasting Commission, NBC, against its ongoing intimidation and threats towards journalists and broadcast entities.

Balarabe Shehu Ilelah, the Director-General of NBC, recently criticized Arise Television for its failure to censor guests on The Morning Show who allegedly defamed President Bola Tinubu and other political figures.

However, Emmanuel Onwubiko, the National Coordinator of HURIWA, in a press statement on Friday, October 6, 2023, stated that the regulatory body should prioritize the freedom of television and radio stations, allowing them to operate without unnecessary constraints.

He emphasized the primacy of the Nigerian Constitution over public office holders, noting that the NBC should not attempt to infringe upon the rights guaranteed in Chapter 4, which includes freedom of information.

Onwubiko warned against the NBC’s continued efforts to suppress Nigerians’ fundamental human rights, saying the body should not force broadcasters to limit their scope of reporting, especially when it comes to airing viewpoints that might differ from those held by the government.

He likened the NBC’s restrictive approach to something one might see in an autocratic regime like North Korea’s, which muzzles dissenting voices.

Moreover, Onwubiko suggested that the NBC seemed to be collaborating with certain regressive forces that are trying to undermine democracy in Nigeria and replace it with a more autocratic style of governance.

The HURIWA coordinator pointed out that there are sufficient laws on defamation in Nigeria. Thus, if President Tinubu feels that a particular station has tarnished his reputation, he has every right to file a lawsuit.

Onwubiko concluded by stressing that as a President, Tinubu must be open to scrutiny. He further stated that Tinubu cannot use privacy laws as a shield to avoid crucial inquiries related to his qualifications and the credentials he provided to run for public office.

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