The Nigerian Guild of Editors, NGE, has condemns in very strong terms the indefinite suspension of the licenses of the African Independent Television, AIT, and Ray Power by the National Broadcasting Commission, NBC.
The Guild, in a statement issued this Friday by its President, Funke Egbemode and Secretary, Mary Atolagbe demanded immediate revocation of the suspension order clamped on the two stations operated by DAAR Communications Limited, insisting that it runs contrary to the ideals of free speech and the fine tenets of press freedom.
It also affirmed that the action “is a case of Executive highhandedness and it paints our dear country in the darkest tar of dictatorship.
“The Fourth Estate of the Realm remains the watchdog of society and any attempt to gag it in any guise is an affront on democracy and the people. The NBC must and should rescind this ignoble and despicable decision.
“The Guild strongly believes the NBC action is a draconian form of regulation, being out of tune with democratic principles.”
Furthermore, the body of editors expressed concerned about the violation of the constitutional rights of DAAR Communications and absence of media freedom, independence and the stifling of operations of media outfits which are performing their roles as the watchdog of the Nigerian society.
It also condemned in strong terms, what it described as “the barbaric crackdown on the broadcast outfit and demands immediate cessation of this atrocious repression and excessive show of power by the NBC, whose duty is to regulate and not kill the media.”
The Guild also expressed the view that “muzzling the media and throwing thousands of Nigerians into the already saturated labour market should not be the trophy for good corporate governance of a regulator; it is something to be ashamed of and NBC should be ashamed at its action in a fledgling democracy in the 21st Century.
“The Guild is strongly of the opinion that the NBC, in exercising its regulatory powers, should concentrate on implementing policies that will position Nigeria’s broadcasting to compete in the global spheres, rather than engage in witch-hunting and unnecessary show of excessive force.”
The Guild expressed solidarity with the AIT/Ray Power family, urging the staff and management to remain calm as it liaises with well-meaning Nigerians and other media professionals to get justice. It also called on President Muhammadu Buhari to call the NBC to order, insisting that there must be humane and saner ways to resolve disputes bordering on violation of the Broadcasting Code.