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More knocks for FG over Channels TV

Posted by By TOPE ADEBOBOYE, RAZAQ BAMIDELE and FELICIA MBAEGBU on 2008/09/18 | Views: 1474 |

More knocks for FG over Channels TV


Condemnations have continued to trail Wednesday's suspension of the operating licence of Channels Television by the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), with the Action Congress (AC) and the Progressive Peoples Alliance (PPA) giving the federal government a thumbs-down over the continued closure of the outfit.

Condemnations have continued to trail Wednesday's suspension of the operating licence of Channels Television by the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), with the Action Congress (AC) and the Progressive Peoples Alliance (PPA) giving the federal government a thumbs-down over the continued closure of the outfit.

Meanwhile, the federal government hinted last night that the station, which was shut down on Tuesday shortly after it aired the controversial report of President Umaru Musa Yar'Adua's purported resignation plan, might soon regain its operating licence.

Also, the State Security Service (SSS) has released the Deputy Editor-in-Chief of the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), Mr John Ndukauba and two other journalists from Channels Television in Abuja.

Ndukauba and the others, Bashir Adigun, Regional Editor and Sola Olaiya, Station Manager of Channels Television, were released to their chief executives, Mrs Oluremi Oyo, Managing Director of NAN and Mr John Momoh, Managing Director of Channels Television, respectively Thursday evening.
The three were detained by the SSS on Tuesday in the wake of the controversial story.

Daily Sun gathered that Information Minister, Mr John Odey, on Thursday held a meeting with the Channels Television boss, Mr Momoh at the minister's office in Abuja where both parties engaged in useful discussions on how to end the clampdown on the station.

The minister, who confirmed the meeting, denied that the presidency was persecuting Channels, saying government was merely following normal procedure to get to the root of the offensive report.
He explained that the Channels' operating licence was suspended, not revoked, and expressed hopes that the crisis would soon be resolved.

It was learnt that the Channels Television boss will today meet with NBC officials to find a solution to the crisis. There is a high possibility that the suspension order will be lifted soon after the meeting.
The Action Congress, in a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, said the suspension of the operating licence of Channel TV over its airing of the report was "illegal and a shocking case of killing a fly with a sledge hammer." He added that the action also amounted to "a declaration of war on the free press, which the government cannot and would never win."

AC said: "First, the NBC cannot just suspend or revoke the licence of an offending station without first warning the station or giving it a fair hearing, among other procedures prescribed by the NBC code. Flouting the provisions of the code amounts to an act of illegality and lack of due process by the NBC.
"It also amounts to a terrible faux pas for a government that touts the rule of law as a mantra to so wilfully act illegally. Since we believe the so-called suspension may not have had the blessing of President Yar'Adua, the apostle of the rule of law, we urge him to intervene to ensure that due process is followed in this case.''

The party reiterated its earlier assertion that the television station acted unprofessionally by airing such a sensitive story without cross-checking with the presidency. It said, however, that in view of Channels TV's impressive record as a news channel of note since its inception, "it would be unfair to destroy the station and push its employees to the job market.
The Progressive Peoples Alliance (PPA) called on the Federal Government to “promptly reopen the shut TV station.”

In a press statement in Umuahia on Thursday, the party's Deputy National Chairman, South, Lisa Olu Akerele, said the punishment meted out to the station for airing the president's purported resignation plan was too severe. The party regretted that the Nigeria Broadcasting Commission (NBC) never gave Channels Television a chance to state its own side of the story.

According to the party, the SSS should unravel the source of the offensive material, which has been denied by the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) instead of hounding reporters and their organizations.
It also noted that the statute establishing the NBC does not provide for the suspension of operations of errant broadcast stations. According to the party, NBC could only revoke a licence after allowing for fair hearing and due process.

Akerele observed that the French News Agency, AFP, which also used the story that emanated from a fake NAN site had not received any punishment, urging the NBC to handle the perceived infringement through appropriate processes and the rule of law rather than brute force.
The party said the clampdown will affect many families whose breadwinners would lose their jobs, noting that this was unacceptable in the face of the current high unemployment rate in the country.

The Media Rights Agenda, in its reaction, said it viewed the invasions as dictatorial, barbaric, and totally condemnable, adding that the actions of the security agencies are against the principles of democracy especially in a government that prides itself on abiding by the rule of law.

The organization, in a statement by its programme officer, media, Mr. Joseph Izibili, called on the federal government to order the SSS to immediately vacate the premises of Channels TV and allow it to continue its operations unhindered. It also called for the release of the arrested staff of the station as well as all vital documents that were confiscated by the agencies during the raids on the media house.
Said the organization: "We believe that there are various peaceful avenues that could be used to address perceived injury the Channels TV broadcast may have caused. Resorting to the barbaric manner in which the SSS swooped on the station is totally unacceptable.

"On the other hand, the beauty of democracy lies in the fact that all Nigerians have equal access to the nation's laws which protect individuals' reputation and which they should resort to for redress if they feel maligned. We therefore call on the SSS to toe the line of the rule of law by taking Channels TV to court if they feel the station has maligned President Umaru Musa Yar'Adua, whose reputation the agency is ostensibly trying to protect."

The group said the SSS and the Nigerian Police should tender an unreserved apology to the managements of NAN and Channels TV "and pay the station compensation commensurate with the shut down due to the loss of man hour, advertising revenue and the trauma caused by the arrest and illegal detention of staff members."
Also condemning the closure, a Lagos based Non-Governmental Organization, The Nucleus Group, (TNG) as well as the Arewa Youth Consultative Forum, (AYCF), said the government action was counter productive.

In separate interviews in Lagos, the TNG Patron, Mr Bosun Jeje and the National Coordinator of the AYCF, Alhaji Shettima Usman Yerima, said the action reminded Nigerian citizens of the e dark period of the military regime, asserting that, "such a high handedness is alien to democracy and should therefore be reversed."

Both the TNG boss and the AYCF president unanimously agreed that now that Mr President was due for the United Nations' gathering next week, having bad press at the home front would do a serious damage to the image of a supposed democratic president. They warned that" if the issue is not settled amicably in time, the Federal Government would be the worse for it as no government fights the press and succeeds."

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Fay(Katy, Texas, US)says...

Actually translates to bravehearted.