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Channels Television Closure: FG Condemned, Right Groups To Storm NBC Office

Posted by By Simon Ateba, Kazeem Ugbodaga & Tunde Lemuel on 2008/09/18 | Views: 1492 |

Channels Television Closure: FG Condemned, Right Groups To Storm NBC Office


A coalition of pro-democracy groups and human rights organisations has completed arrangements to storm the corporate office of the National Broadcast Commission, NBC, in Lagos State to protest the closure of Channels Television even as investigation is still on going.

A coalition of pro-democracy groups and human rights organisations has completed arrangements to storm the corporate office of the National Broadcast Commission, NBC, in Lagos State to protest the closure of Channels Television even as investigation is still on going.

The coalition, including the United Action for Democracy, UAD; the Civil Liberties Organisation, CLO, and several others will lay siege to the NBC office tomorrow to demand the immediate and unconditional restoration of the license of one of the most respected TV stations in the country.

The activists, including Lagos Lawyer, Festus Keyamo, this morning, described the NBC’s hasty action as “draconian, illegal, anti-democratic and reminiscent of the military dictatorship”.

According to Keyamo, “to suspend the license of Channels TV when the investigation is still on going is a breach of their fundamental rights. What this means is that you punish them before the investigation is concluded. Now what happens at the end of the day if they are found innocent?”

A University of Lagos don , Dr. Babs Hussain, called on the Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE) to blackout from today any news from the Presidency, adding “that is the best way to fight dictatorship.”

He said the closure of the TV station “is illegal in the first place and reminiscent of the military regime.“

The UAD Convener, Comrade Abiodun Aremu, explained that the protest has become necessary because “the suspension of Channels TV license is unacceptable and makes mockery of the rule of law and must be resisted.”

Aremu this morning called on Nigerians to rise against the ‘anti-democracy and anti-Nigerians action of the NBC.

“It’s a way of blackmailing the media and we are going to stop this. This country belongs to all of us. This country belongs to all Nigerians and not a clique or cabal in Aso Rock,” he said.

He added: “This is against the backdrop of a president who disappeared from Nigeria for many weeks without any categorical statement from the Presidency. And up till today, they have not come out to tell us where Yar’ Adua was for many weeks. This is an insincere government and all kind of rumours are bound to happen.

“We are going to picket the NBC office tomorrow by 11 O’clock prompt. Every Nigerian must rise against this, it is against the rule of law, it is undemocratic and we will resist it with all our might.”

According to Comrade Ibuchukwu Ezike, acting executive director, CLO, in a telephone chat this morning, the action is not only draconian but criminal and must be resisted.

He said: “It shows that this government is neither different from the Obasanjo dictatorship and the military dictatorship.

“It is the continuation of the process of the military experiment. We condemn in totality the hasty action. It violates the right to freedom of expression and the TV performance of its constitutional duty to the public. It is against Nigerians and the interest of the country. We call on the NBC to immediately and unconditionally restore the license of Channels TV. We would be at NBC tomorrow with other rights groups to say that enough is enough.”

Other eminent Nigerians also called on the Federal Government to immediately reopen the station and release its arrested officials. Former governor of Kaduna State, Alhaji Balarabe Musa said there was nothing wrong with Channels reporting the purported resignation of President Yar’Adua from office after he might have constituted a new cabinet.

“It appears the government is nervous. Why should it lead to the arrest of individuals, especially when the report was made by the mouthpiece of the Federal Government?

“The arrest is not justified and it is a threat to freedom of the press. It means they are so desperate to be repressive,” he stated.

According to Prof. Itse Sagay, the closure of Channels was shocking and “it is a sign of intolerance and bringing back of the Obasanjo military regime. The era of the rule of law seems to have elapsed. It is contrary to everything our constitution stands for. It is totally undemocratic.”

Niger Delta warlord, Mujahideen Asari-Dokubo condemned the closure of Channels, saying that this government was sliding into dictatorship.

“We call on the people to rise up against this tyranny. It’s quest towards the rule of law is a lie,” he said.

National Publicity Secretary, Afenifere, Mr. Yinka Odumakin described the development as unfortunate, saying it was very dangerous for the government to shut the station.

“The regime is sending dangerous signal to the media. It has nothing to do with the report. What the government should have done is to ask the NBC to take appropriate action against the station.

“We demand the immediate reopening of the station and release of its detained staff and those of NAN arrested,” he stated.

National President, Campaign for Democracy (CD), Dr. Joe Okei-Odumakin condemned the closure and demanded for the immediate reopening and unconditional release of those arrested.

“Any hour the captives further spend in detention is an indictment of the rule of law posture of the administration,” she said.

According to the president, Arewa Youth Consultative Forum, Alhaji Yerima Shettima, the closure of Channels is condemnable “and it is a clear indication to Nigeria to brace up. This is maximum dictatorship.”

Also, a call has gone to the Federal Government to overhaul the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) to prevent such incident that led to the closure of Channels Television by the operatives of the State Security Service, SSS, on Tuesday.

In a television programme, Matters Arising, monitored on AIT yesterday, a panel, which included Eric Osagie, Editor Northern Operations for The Sun newspaper and other media practitioners, collectively blamed the political class for using the media to fight its battles after which the media are left to their own fate.

They said the political class is not patriotic as it ought to be.

According to Eric, “Channels has nothing to gain by Yar’Adua resignation. The press is always the whipping boy in the hands of the political class. This is a manipulative trend and the handiwork of the political class. What Channels did could have been an error of the head and not of the heart.

“Secondly, the political class needs to put their house in order. Journalists are passionately patriotic, they fought for democracy while the politicians squabbled.

“These politicians are the fifth columnists. When people give you information, they don’t tell you the reason behind the information. So, somebody could have leaked this information. They should investigate the source of the information.”

Another panelist stated that Nigeria is such an experiment. He said the recent sack of the Secretary to the Federal Government, Ambassador Babagana Kingibe and news about the impending reshuffle of the executive cabinet could give room to speculation.

Channels was shut on Tuesday following its report that President Umaru Yar’Adua would resign after reshuffling his cabinet. The report, which turned out to be a hoax, was said to have emanated from NAN website. NAN immediately denied that the report emanated from them.

Meanwhile, Channels TV last night was said to have regretted its action by issuing an apology letter to Nigerians.

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Comments (6)

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Joel Efiong(Calabar, Nigeria)says...

This is a great piece. The examination bodies should hire you as ICT consultant.

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Sunday Mbe(Kaduna, Kaduna, Nigeria)says...

ULIMASI means' GOD,THANK YOU' not THANK GOD.

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Sunday Mbe(Kaduna, Kaduna, Nigeria)says...

The name ULIMASI is from the UTUGWANG tribe in OBUDU local government area of CROSS RIVER STATE in Nigeria.

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Okfold(Sobe, Edo, Nigeria)says...

I want the meaning of female owan name Ekeke (Edo state)

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Toluwalase Samuel Olufemi(Ijebu, Ogun, Nigeria)says...

Authority belongs to God, once He decrees it is final and binding