DAAR Communications PLC, owners of African Independent Television (AIT) and RayPower FM, disclosed that its founder, Chief Raymond Dokpesi, would on Thursday, June 6, stage a ‘one-man demonstration’ to the National Assembly to protest against plots by the All Progressives Congress (APC)-led federal government to gag the media and suppress free speech.
This followed a threat by the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) to move against Dokpesi’s Media Houses over some reports it considered unfavourable.
The regulatory body has accused the broadcast stations of airing “offensive, unfair and unprofessional” content in violation of its rules.
In three letters made available to the organisations, the Commission’s Director of Broadcast Monitoring, Armstrong Idachaba, asked AIT and RayPower to state why they should not be sanctioned over the issues raised.
“The continued use of your licence (given in trust to you on behalf of the entire Nigerian people), to embark on attacks and vilification of the regulator shall attract appropriate sanctions going forward,” he wrote.
In one of the letters, Idachaba alleged that the stations had the motive of inciting the public against the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the government.
“Monitoring reports on AIT and Ray Power FM indicate that a news commentary replete with unfair allegations against the judiciary was aired from Monday, May 20, 2019.
“This commentary was aired on the two stations during the week. The broadcast is a contravention of the provisions of the Code and extant laws regarding discussion of cases pending in the law courts which could be termed as contempt of court,” the NBC said.
It cited many instances where “inciting words” were used and how social media users fanned the embers of discord.
“Your station is by this letter advised to be cautious when discussing issues relating to matters pending in the court of law and refrain from use of language inimical to the broadcast profession,” it said.
DAAR Communications PLC urged Nigerians and the international community, “to note the act of brigandage against freedom of speech and association as clearly expressed in Nigeria’s constitution.”
“AIT and RayPower have not violated any code of broadcasting as alleged by the NBC. The NBC and the government in power are not comfortable with the broadcast industry because of its courageous and dogged stance in informing Nigerians on happenings in the country.
“We are in a democracy and must all rise to defend Nigeria from anti-democratic forces,” the media outfit said.