The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has given the Nigerian President 24hrs to direct the Minister of Information and Culture, Mr. Lai Mohammed and the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) to retract the license revocation as well as shut down of the 53 media stations which happened few days ago. The stations were given till August 23, 2022 to pay up alleged N2.6 billion debt or face closure by 12am August 24, 2022. However, in response, SERAP, in a letter addressed to the President on August 20, 2022, which was signed by the Deputy Director Kolawole Oluwadare, said, “The threat to shut down 53 broadcast stations is neither necessary nor proportionate. If carried out, it would offend the legal principles of equity and equality of access to mass communication. Under the Nigerian Constitution 1999 [as amended] and international human rights law, freedom and diversity must be guiding principles in the regulation and licensing of broadcasting. The threat to shut down 53 broadcast stations is entirely inconsistent and incompatible with these principles. Revoking the licenses of 53 broadcast stations and shutting down their operations because they have not renewed their licenses would undermine the rights of millions of Nigerians to express their thoughts.
“It would also violate Nigerians’ right to seek, receive, and impart information and ideas of all kinds, in any medium they choose. We would be grateful if the requested action is taken within 24 hours of the receipt and/or publication of this letter. If we have not heard from you by then, SERAP shall take all appropriate legal actions to compel your government to comply with our request in the public interest. The NBC Act and Broadcasting Code cannot and should not be used in a manner that is inconsistent and incompatible with plurality of voices, diversity of voices, non-discrimination, and just demands of a democratic society, as well as the public interest. When money or economic considerations are the major criteria for renewing licenses for broadcast stations, the fundamental principles of equal access to the media, pluralism and diversity are compromised.”