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HomeNewsIPC Condemns Sanction Against Trust TV Over Banditry Documentary

IPC Condemns Sanction Against Trust TV Over Banditry Documentary

The International Press Centre (IPC), Lagos, Nigeria, has condemned with strong words the federal government’s sanction against Trust TV, a digital extension of the Daily Trust newspaper, over a documentary revealing the worsening spate of insecurity in the country.

The documentary, titled: ‘Nigeria’s Banditry: The Inside Story’ featured notorious bandits’ leader Bello Turji and his cohorts. The federal government was less concerned about it until a similar documentary was released by the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) last week Monday.

Following the BBC documentary which attracted the public attention, Nigeria’s Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, announced that the federal government would sanction Trust TV and BBC for “propagating” terrorism activities in the country.

READ: Bandits Now Recruit Herdsmen, Pay Them N50,000 Daily — Sheikh Gumi

Stunningly, the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) fined Trust TV N5 million. The arbitrary fine, IPC says was made known in an August 3, 2022 letter signed by Balarabe Shehu Ilelah, the Director-General of NBC to the management of Trust TV.

In a statement signed by IPC Press Freedom Officer, Melody Lawal, the Nigerian government was accused of violating the principles of democracy, adding that basic tenets of the rule of law can not be trampled upon in a democracy.
IPC further blamed NBC for taking side in the matter. It argued that NBC did not give Trust TV fear hearing to defend itself.

“It is unacceptable that NBC, funded by tax payers money and expected to act in the public interest, would continuously exhibit the symptoms of an attack dog of the government once the Information Minister blows the whistle,” the statements partly reads.

It continues: “The Federal Government, the Information Minister and the NBC must be made to understand that the banditry ravaging the country and daily putting the lives and property of the citizens in jeopardy is not a creation of the media, which has through editorial opinions, investigations and broadcast programmes offered suggestions and support to the government on the way out of the general insecurity.

“At the same time, in line with its constitutional obligation to monitor governance and hold the government accountable to the people, the media has also been critical of the inability of the government to fufill its own part of the constitutional bargain by guaranteeing the lives and security of the people.”

READ: Escaping Bandits To Biting Hunger: The Life Of IDPs In Kebbi Camps

On his part, the Executive Director of IPC, Lanre Arogundade, said: “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.”

In close, IPC urged various professional press bodies to stand against the sanction. “We call on the Broadcasting Organisations of Nigeria, Nigerian Guild of Editors, the Nigeria Union of Journalists and other 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,” IPC says in the statement.

IPC Press Statement

N5M FINE IMPOSED ON TRUST TV ARBITRARY AND UNACCEPTABLE.

The International Press Centre (IPC), Lagos-Nigeria is miffed that the National Broadcasting Commission has slammed a hefty fine of N5m (Five Million Naira) on Trust TV over the broadcast of a documentary on the state of insecurity in the country titled ‘Nigeria’s Banditry: The Inside Story’.

The imposition of the arbitrary fine was contained in an August 3, 2022 letter to the Chief Executive Officer of Trust TV Network Ltd by the Director General of NBC, Balarabe Shehu Ilelah.

Following the threat by the Information Minister, Mr. Lai Mohammed, that the TV station and BBC would be sanctioned for airing the documentary, IPC had issued a statement warning the Federal Government to refrain from constituting itself to the accuser, the prosecutor and the judge in its own case.

IPC is dismayed that the Federal Government through the NBC has shamefully done that, forgetting that in a democracy the basic tenets of the rule of law cannot be trampled upon as it suits the whims and caprices of those in the corridors of power.

In the above context, it is worth pointing out that Trust TV was neither notified of the alleged infringement of sections 3.1.1, 3.12.2 and 3.11. 2 of the Nigeria Broadcasting Code nor requested to defend itself against the allegations before the fine was handed down. In other words, there was no fair hearing for Tust TV, but one-sided hearing of the accusation by the Information Minister upon which the NBC acted.

It is unacceptable that NBC, funded by tax payers money and expected to act in the public interest, would continuously exhibit the symptoms of an attack dog of the government once the Information Minister blows the whistle.

The Federal Government, the Information Minister and the NBC must be made to understand that the banditry ravaging the country and daily putting the lives and property of the citizens in jeopardy is not a creation of the media, which has through editorial opinions, investigations and broadcast programmes offered suggestions and support to the government on the way out of the general insecurity.

At the same time, in line with its constitutional obligation to monitor governance and hold the government accountable to the people, the media has also been critical of the inability of the government to fufill its own part of the constitutional bargain by guaranteeing the lives and security of the people.

“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”, said the Executive Director of IPC, Mr. Lanre Arogundade.

We call on the Broadcasting Organisations of Nigeria, Nigerian Guild of Editors , the Nigeria Union of Journalists and other 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.

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