The Socio-Economic Right and Accountability Project (SERAP) has described the directive by the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) to broadcast mediums to ‘de-install’ Twitter or face sanctions as political interference and should be withdrawn.
On Monday, in the wake of the Nigerian Government’s suspension of Twitter, Prof. Armstrong Idachaba, the NBC’s Director-General, ordered radio and television stations to “desist from using Twitter as a source of information gathering for News and Programmes Presentation, especially Phone-in”.
“Note that it will be unpatriotic for any broadcaster in Nigeria to continue to patronise the suspended Twitter as a source of its information, therefore strict compliance is enjoined,” NBC stated.
Responding in a statement hours after, Kolawole Oluwadare, SERAP’s Deputy Director, said the NBC directive was based on another unlawful decision by the government.
“This directive by the NBC is itself unlawful because it is based on another unlawful decision by the Federal Government to suspend Twitter in Nigeria,” SERAP said.
“The NBC’s directive has political interference written all over it. It is a blow to Nigerians’ rights to freedom of expression, media freedom, media independence and diversity. The directive must be immediately withdrawn.”
SERAP argued that freedom of expression is a fundamental human right, describing the action by NBC as “yet another nail in the coffin for human rights, media freedom and independent journalism under this government”.
“The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights should publicly and vigorously express concerns over the Nigerian government’s increasingly brutal crackdown on media freedom, and use all possible means to urge the government of President Muhammadu Buhari to protect and respect freedom of expression,” it said.
“The international community should stand with the broadcast stations and journalists and make clear to the Nigerian government that freedom of expression, media freedom, transparency and accountability, as well as respect for the rule of law are essential to democracy.
“The UN and donors should continue to take every opportunity to call on the Nigerian government to rescind the unlawful suspension of Twitter in Nigeria, respect freedom of expression, and media freedom, and hold to account anyone targeting broadcast stations and journalists simply for carrying out their professional duty.
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