NBC directs TV, radio stations to suspend Twitter handles

..NBC order unlawful, says SERAP

The National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) has directed all broadcast stations in Nigeria to suspend the patronage of Twitter immediately.

This directive is contained in a Statement signed by the Director General of the Agency, Prof. Armstrong Idachaba on Monday in Abuja.

Idachaba noted that it would be unpatriotic for any broadcaster in Nigeria to continue to patronise the suspended Twitter as a source of its information.

According to him, section 2 (1) of the NBC Act entrusts the Commission with responsibility to ensure strict adherence to the national laws, rules and regulations.

“Consequent on the suspension of Twitter operations in Nigeria by the Federal Government over the persistent use of the platform for activities that are capable of undermining the corporate existence of Nigeria.

“Therefore, strict compliance is enjoined and in Compliance to the above directive, Broadcasting Stations are hereby advised to de- install twitter handles.

“They are to desist from using Twitter as a source (UGC) of information gathering for News and programmes Presentation especially Phone-in.

“Also, section 3.11.2 of the Nigeria Broadcasting Code provides that the broadcaster shall ensure that law enforcement is upheld at all times in a matter depicting that law and order are socially superior to or more desirable than Crime and Anarchy.

“Attention is also drawn to section 5.6.3 of the code which requires broadcasters to be mindful of materials that may cause disaffection, incite to panic or rift in the society in the use of a user generated Content (UGC),” the statement read in part.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that on June 4, the Federal Government suspended, indefinitely, the operations of Twitter, the microblogging and social networking service, in Nigeria.

This is disclosed by the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, via a statement issued by the Ministry’s spokesperson, Segun Adeyemi.

The Minister cited the persistent use of the platform for activities that are capable of undermining Nigeria’s corporate existence.

“The Federal Government has also directed the NBC  to immediately begin the process of licensing all Over-The-Top (OTT) and social media operations in Nigeria,” the statement read.

However, the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) on Monday condemned the NBC order

SERAP in a statement by its deputy director Kolawole Oluwadare stated, “This directive by the NBC is itself unlawful because it is based on another unlawful decision by the Federal Government to suspend Twitter in Nigeria. The NBC’s directive has political interference written all over it. It is a blow to Nigerians’ rights to freedom of expression, media freedom, media independence and diversity. The directive must be immediately withdrawn.”

The statement, read in part: “Freedom of expression is a fundamental human right. This action by the NBC is yet another nail in the coffin for human rights, media freedom and independent journalism under this government.”

“The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights should publicly and vigorously express concerns over the Nigerian government’s increasingly brutal crackdown on media freedom, and use all possible means to urge the government of President Muhammadu Buhari to protect and respect freedom of expression.”

“The international community should stand with the broadcast stations and journalists and make clear to the Nigerian government that freedom of expression, media freedom, transparency and accountability, as well as respect for the rule of law are essential to democracy.”

“The UN and donors should continue to take every opportunity to call on the Nigerian government to rescind the unlawful suspension of Twitter in Nigeria, respect freedom of expression, and media freedom, and hold to account anyone targeting broadcast stations and journalists simply for carrying out their professional duty.”

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