Kwara State Accused of Plans to Ban Live Political Programmes on TV

Mr. Is’Haq Modibbo Kawu, The Director-General of the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC)
Mr. Is’Haq Modibbo Kawu, The Director-General of the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC)

Kwara Must Change (KMC), a pro-democracy group, has disclosed that the Kwara State House of Assembly has mooted plans to ban the airing of all live political programmes on radio and television.

KMC said the State House of Assembly, after deliberations on a motion titled “The Need For All Broadcast Stations In Kwara to Comply With NBC Codes and Regulations”, reportedly instructed the State Commissioner of Justice to write to the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) to ban live partisan political programmes on all broadcast stations in the state and compel political parties to limit their discussions on radio stations to their respective manifestos.

The House also resolved that parties should no longer make reference to the activities of other political parties or government headed by other political parties.

The House is also recommending that the licence of any broadcast station that violates the NBC Code and regulations should be withdrawn.

KMC has criticized the legislators’ action as a move to censor media in the State, saying in a statement: “We reject in entirety, the content of this anti-democratic plan and urge the Kwara State House of Assembly to abort it,” adding that the legislators’ resolution is a misplaced priority.

KMC argued that every Nigerian, irrespective of political affiliation, is entitled to a variety of freedoms, none of which should be restricted.

The group argued that: “These rights are inalienable and are properly protected in Section 39 of the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. To suggest that any Nigerian be banned from exercising his constitutional right on broadcast stations is nothing but an act of tyranny and high level impunity.”

KMC asserted that it is not the place of the Kwara State House of Assembly to instruct the NBC to carry out its duty of enforcing codes and regulations, adding that “If NBC feels that any broadcast station in Kwara State has breached any code or regulation, it would take appropriate action to sanction the affected station.”

It added that it found it strange that the Kwara State House of Assembly was attempting to usurp the powers of NBC by imposing on itself the duty of law enforcer in media practice or attempting to influence the NBC to take actions that are unknown to law.

It contended that across the country, civil and political programmes on radio stations are anchored by citizens irrespective of political affiliation, adding that membership of a political party does not strip a citizen or group of citizens of their basic rights.

It insisted that the NBC cannot prevent healthy public discussions aimed at educating the public simply because some politicians or people in government are not comfortable with criticisms.

KMC demanded that the “vexatious” motion on be dropped in its entirety and the House desist from further attempts to restrict media freedom in the state.