The Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Caucus in the House of Representatives, has condemned the infraction notice issued by the National Broadcasting Commission against Channels Television, following an interview granted to the Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom, during a current affairs programme “Sunrise Daily”.
In a statement released by leader of the caucus, Kingsley Chinda, the lawmakers noted that “while the nation drifts into a near Hobbesian state amidst the raging insecurity currently engulfing the country, the daily carnage experienced across Benue, Plateau and other states, kidnapping of innocent citizens including school children and the unprecedented violent attack on the Nigeria Defence Academy which is one of the most hallowed symbols of Nigeria’s sovereignty; the government of President Muhammadu Buhari is preoccupied with hounding perceived enemies of the administration and stifling the press; acts which are antithetical to democratic ethos”.
The caucus challenged the legality of the broadcasting code, which gives the NBC powers to sanction the television station, a matter the caucus disclose is been challenged by it before a Federal High Court in the Federal Capital City.
The lawmakers while acknowledging the role played by Channels Television in foisting the current adiministration on the country during the 2015 elections through lopsided reportage of national events, restated it’s commitment to ensure the protection of Nigeria’s democratic space with press freedom and the rule of law as the core pillar.
The Caucus expressed worry at the rapid descent of the country into the sort of repression and despotism experienced before the nation’s return to democracy, saying the assault on press freedom has reached a crescendo under the current administration.
The statement further reminded the present administration that, press freedom is a universal right and an integral component of democratic governance calling on President Muhammadu Buhari to live up to his mandate to defend and protect the Constitution, by immediately directing all relevant organs of State to desist from further harassment of Channels Television, or any other print or electronic media platform as same violates the provisions of Chapter IV of the 1999 Constitution which guarantees freedom of expression and, by extension, Press freedom.