Nigeria’s National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), the regulatory body for broadcasting, on February 22, 2013, suspended indefinitely the Kano operating licence of Globe Broadcasting and Communications Limited, owners of Wazobia FM in Kano, Nigeria. Wazobia FM also broadcasts in Abuja, Lagos and Port Harcourt with different licenses covering its operations in these cities.
The suspension is contained in a statement issued in Abuja on by the Commission’s Head of Public Affairs, Malam Awwalu Salihu. The statement explained that the suspension was in continuation of the steps taken by the Commission following the broadcast of an episode of a programme called ‘Sandar Girma’. The programme was blamed for inciting violence which led to the killing of nine polio vaccinators by unknown gunmen.
The statement said the programme breached Section 3.9.1 of the Nigerian Broadcasting Code which prohibits the use of language encouraging crime or disorder.
It said: “Section 3.9.1, for instance, stipulates that: language or scene likely to encourage or incite crime, or lead to disorder, shall not be broadcast.”
The statement added that the station had been used in a manner that was detrimental to national interest and ordered the station to go off air with ‘immediate’ effect until further notice.
Malam Awwalu Salihu said in the statement: “The Commission has, therefore, decided to suspend the licence of the station in accordance with sections 10(d) and 14 of the Third Schedule of the National Broadcasting Commission Act, CAP N11, Laws of the Federation, 2004, until further notice.”
Media Rights Agenda (MRA) on February 25, 2013, condemned the indefinite suspension of the operating licence of Wazobia FM in Kano, by the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC). MRA said the action was arbitrary and violated the tenets and principles of justice.
The Organisation described the indefinite suspension as unacceptable particularly since the programme ‘Sandar Girma’ had already been suspended from airing on Wazobia FM, thereby making the suspension of the station’s broadcast licence an overkill.
MRA’s Executive Director, Mr. Edetaen Ojo, said: “We wonder what administrative steps the NBC took before suspending the station’s broadcast licence indefinitely,” adding that: “It is not enough to decide that a station has violated the Broadcasting Code or any Law and go ahead to sanction it. Laid down procedures and principles of fair hearing should be followed, including a requirement that the erring station should be given an opportunity to defend itself before such an action is taken against it, moreso since Wazobia FM has suspended the programme in question.”
MRA said arbitrary punitive measures against media houses by the NBC should be discouraged at all times and if need be such incidents should be open to public debate.
The organisation reminded the NBC that some of the consequences of this action include the disempowerment of the listening public and retrenchment of the station’s staff which do not help the prevailing high unemployment rate in the country. They called on the NBC to immediately rescind the suspension order and allow the station to carry out its professional duties.