SERAP Expresses Disapproval Of Planned Shutdown Of Broadcasting Stations


In response to actions taken by the Federal Government to revoke the licenses of broadcast stations and shut them down for their coverage of elections and post-election issues, the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has threatened to take the government to court.

SERAP said if the threat is not immediately withdrawn, it will restrict freedom of expression and broadcast stations’ ability to cover significant issues surrounding the 2023 general elections. This is contained in a letter dated March 11, 2023 and signed by its Deputy Director, Kolawole Oluwadare.

The civil society organization also urged President Muhammadu Buhari to direct Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the Minister of Information and Culture, and the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), to immediately revoke the most recent threat and warning they issued to the media outlets.

The NBC threatened to suspend broadcast stations’ licenses and shut them down last week, if they “…continued to let unpatriotic people use their platforms to make divisive, hateful, and inciting remarks, especially in the run-up to the 2023 presidential election,” it claimed.

But, SERAP emphasized in its letter to the president that it is manifestly incompatible for Nigeria to threaten to close down and revoke the licenses of broadcast stations simply for performing their ‘watchdog role’ under the country’s constitution and other international human rights commitments.

It went on to say that political expression is a fundamental right and that the threat made by the NBC significantly raises the possibility that legitimate expression will be suppressed.

The group added that such an illegal ban may hinder transparency and the communication of information about important public problems leading up to the general elections in 2023.

SERAP said, “We will be grateful if the requested action is taken within 48 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 threat may produce a direct impact on the work of broadcast stations in ways that are inconsistent with the right to freedom of expression, access to information and media freedom.”

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