The National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) on November 14, 2022, announced a fine of N2 million imposed on Arise TV, an international cable television news channel, for allegedly airing a fake news story which claimed that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) had issued a press release saying it was investigating a purported order by a United States court of criminal forfeiture of funds against the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, with a view to prosecuting him.
The station has reportedly paid N2 million naira fine imposed on it by the NBC, retracted the fake news report and apologized to Asiwaju Tinubu after INEC publicly dismissed the press release as fake.
Arise TV on November 12, 2022 aired a news story which claimed that INEC issued a press release purportedly signed by Festus Okoye, INEC National Commissioner and Chairman (Information and Voter Education Committee), in which the Commission claimed it was investigating the issue of criminal forfeiture of funds by a U.S. court against Asiwaju Tinubu.
INEC however denied issuing the statement saying “We wish to state categorically that the said press release did not emanate from the commission nor is it pursuing the purported course of action. It is the handiwork of mischief makers and utterly fake.” It added that statements from INEC are usually uploaded to the INEC Press Corps platform and simultaneously disseminated through the commission’s website and official social media handles.
Consequent upon this, the Management of Arise TV in a statement on November 13, 2022, retracted the news report and apologized to Asiwaju Tinubu. Arise TV Management said: “Of criminal forfeiture of funds, linked to narcotics, smuggling conspiracy and money laundering against the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress Bola Ahmed Tinubu, we Arise News that carried the news, which is now been denied by the Independent National Electoral Commission INEC and we apologise most sincerely to the APC presidential candidate Bola Ahmed Tinubu for the earlier broadcast.”
The broadcast regulator fined the TV station of N2 million for the infraction and demanded the payment of the fine within two weeks.
Director-General of NBC, Balarabe Shehu Ilelah, said the report breached the Nigeria Broadcasting Code.
According to NBC DG, airing of the said press release was “a most unfortunate breach of the Nigeria Broadcasting Code and gross display of unprofessionalism and insensitivity by your organisation at this time of electioneering.”
Arise TV is an international television news channel reporting on major global news with a strong focus on Africa. It is owned by Prince Nduka Obaigbena, who also owns ThisDay newspapers.