LAGOS, Monday, February 25, 2013: Media Rights Agenda (MRA) today condemned the indefinite suspension of the operating licence of Globe Broadcasting and Communications Limited, owners of Wazobia FM in Kano, by the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC). The organization said the action was arbitrary and violated the tenets and principles of justice.
The suspension of the station is contained in a statement issued in Abuja on February, 22, 2013 by the Commission’s Head of Public Affairs, Mallam 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 the programme ‘Sandar Girma’. The programme was blamed for inciting violence which led to the assassination of nine polio vaccinators by unknown gunmen on February 8, 2013.
The NBC said in the statement that the programme was found to have breached Section 3.9.1 of the Nigerian Broadcasting Code which prohibits the use of language encouraging crime or disorder.
Mallam Awwalu said in the statement that “Section 3.9.1, … stipulates that: language or scene likely to encourage or incite crime, or lead to disorder, shall not be broadcast.”
He continued: “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 Act, CAP N11, Laws of the Federation, 2004, until further notice.”
But MRA 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.
MRA 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.
MRA therefore called on the NBC to immediately rescind the suspension order and allow the station to carry out its professional duties.
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