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NGO Calls for Sack of Kawu, NBC Boss over Hate Speech

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Paradigm Initiative, Pan-African digital rights advocacy group, has called on the Acting President of Nigeria, Professor Yemi Osinbajo to terminate the appointment of Modibbo Kawu as Director General of the National Broadcasting Commission, for alleged engagement in spreading hate speech.

 

The group made the call in a letter sent to the acting president last Wednesday, August 8.

 

The group urged the acting president to relieve the DG of the NBC of his duties “to allow for fair investigation of comments attributed to him and to serve as a needed example and precedent for politicians and public officers irrespective of political affiliation”

Modibbo Kawu

Mr. Kawu’s duty as the Director General of the NBC entails ensuring that the execution of the policies of the commission and its day to day administration is carried out smoothly.

 

The organization further noted that “in carrying out this responsibility… several sanctions and heavy fines have been imposed by the DG against radio, television stations and media houses who have been adjudged as promoting “anti-democratic” content such as misinformation and content capable of inciting violence or causing disaffection in the polity.”

 

However, a Premium Times report on the 5th of August 2018 revealed that Mr. Kawu engaged in posting a string of undemocratic messages on a Whatsapp group of northern editors and intellectuals.

 

In the said group, he made statements of tribal and ethnic implications; capable of inciting hate.

 

According to Boye Adegoke, Program Manager in Paradigm Initiative, “Given the sensitive nature of Mr. Modibbo’s position and role in the affairs of the NBC, it is highly unbecoming of him to be seen creating and promoting such inciting content.

 

“Not only are his actions inappropriate and unbefitting of a public servant but also unacceptable of the Director General of the Commission responsible for amongst other things, regulating and controlling the broadcasting Industry in Nigeria.

 

“At a time when the Nigerian government is putting in efforts to curb fake news, hate speech and harmful content, it is almost laughable that the very person put in the frontline of championing this cause is reported to be engaging in acts such as this,” Adegoke concluded.

 

Paradigm Initiative ended the letter reminding the acting president that Nigeria is a democratic nation in which no one should be above the law and in which equity and justice prevail.

 

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Court Unfreezes Pinnacle Account, Counsels Anti-Graft Agencies

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Nnamdi Dimgba, Federal High Court Judge has ordered Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC) to unfreeze the account of Pinnacle Communications Limited and counselled anti-corruption agencies of government against taking drastic action that could prevent private enterprises from flourishing prior to concluding investigations to justify such action.

 

Delivering his ruling in the case instituted against ICPC for instructing Zenith Bank to freeze it’s account Friday, the judge maintained that the anti-corruption war was as beneficial to the society as flourishing private enterprises pointing out that scuttling the operations of major private organizations like Pinnacle Communications Limited also sends negative signals to the international community about Nigeria’s business environment.

 

Justice Dimgba described ICPC’s action against Pinnacle Communications Limited as “an overkill just like using a sledgehammer to kill a fly” considering that even after six months since the case was instituted and despite lèeway provided by many adjournments by the court, ICPC could not file any charges against the company, emphasizing that it should not have frozen the account without establishing a prima facie against it.

 

The judge remarked that anti-corruption agencies should not based their actions on rumours or “beer parlour stories” but on thorough investigations that could sustain judiciall scrutiny.

 

He held that freezing accounts of individuals or organizations by ICPC amounts to an administrative action of a federal agency which relevant sections of the constitution empower the Federal High Court to review for compliance with the law and obligations of such agencies.

 

Justice Dimgba also ruled that an order freezing account could not subsist perpetually if it was meant to be temporary adding that the essence was to allow for quick conclusion of investigations, especially when it involves a major company playing a major role in the national broadcast sector which could be jeopardized.

 

The judge however said ICPC could continue its investigations and present it’s case before a court which would decide if there is any basis to freeze accounts in future.

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Court Bars NBC from Censoring Political Broadcast

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Economic Community of West African States’ (ECOWAS) Court of Justice has barred the Federal Government of Nigeria, through the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) from censorship of political programmes by broadcasting stations across the country.

 

The court also ordered the NBC to retract circular demanding 24 hrs notification for live broadcast.

 

The ECOWAS Court’s verdict which was delivered Tuesday in Abuja came more than three years after a Port Harcourt-based legal practitioner, Mr Festus Oguche, and Crownfield Solicitors, dragged the NBC before the community court, challenging what the NBC called “Additional Regulations for Live Political Broadcast.”

 

The said regulation dated May 30, 2014, was contained in a letter to all broadcasting stations across the country directing that it must be notified by broadcasting stations in writing, at least 24 hours, before a live transmission of a political programme.

 

Delivering judgment in the matter, the 3-man panel led by the ECOWAS Court of Justice President, Justices Edward Asante, upheld all seven points’ declarations sought by the plaintiff.

 

The plaintiff in the suit had sought for “an order of perpetual injunction, restraining the Federal government, its agencies, servants and proxies from further doing anything, either by way of official policy, directive, instruction and/or investigation that will in anyway impede against the existence and operations of free press in a democratic society, which is guaranteed as fundamental freedom.

 

The court also held that the action of the defendant in directing that all live political broadcasts by broadcasting stations in Nigeria be referred to it was tantamount to censorship of free press and it was contrary to the fundamental freedom enshrined and guaranteed under African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and the ECOWAS Protocol on Democracy and Good Governance.

 

Other declarations upheld by the Court include that the NBC’s directive was against the provisions of the fundamental freedom enshrined and guaranteed under Sections 22 and 39(1) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

 

The Court reportedly declared that it was reckless by National Broadcasting Commission to have issued such instruction to broadcasting stations and subsequently ordered that the NBC make a retraction of the May 2014 directive in a letter to all the broadcasting stations in the country and publish same in national newspapers.

 

Other Justices in the panel are Dupe Atoki and Januaria Moreira Costa.

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NBC Warns Sports Presenters against Violating Codes

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Olajumoke Coker, zonal director at National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), has said that the commission was ready to sanction sports presenters who violated its codes through unprofessional style of presentation.

 

She disclosed this in Ibadan during a seminar organised by the Oyo State Chapter of the Sports Writers Association of Nigeria (SWAN).

 

Coker presented at the seminar a paper titled “Hyping, Praise-singing, Sports Rights and Acquisition’’.

 

She said the hyping of sport events, enthusiasts or sponsors was one big issue the commission had been dealing with.

 

The NBC official adding that a lot of sports presenters, especially the Yoruba sports presenters, were guilty of it.

 

“Hype is when a presenter promotes products or services of commercial value in the course of presentation.

 

This is a violation of Section 7.0.15 of the Nigeria Broadcasting Code. “NBC is not against giving end-credits to sponsors, but it should be done at the end of the programme in moderation and without giving details or promoting their products or services.

 

“When you start listing 20 names during your presentation, it makes your programme lack straight-dealing,” she said.

 

Coker said many stations have received from the commission letters of warning, as well as letters recommending payment of fines and for unprofessional style of presentation.

 

The official said the commission has had cause to even go as far as suspending some broadcasters from the air waves, saying the commission monitors round the clock.

 

She said any sports presenter who violated the provisions of the commission’s broadcasting code would be sanctioned accordingly.

 

“Section 3.1.3 of the Nigeria Broadcasting code clearly prohibits praise singing of sponsors. “It states that broadcasters shall recognise expression as an agent of the society. Therefore, he shall not use his medium for any personal or sectional rights, privileges and needs of his own, proprietor, relatives, friends or supporters,” she said.

 

Coker urged sports presenters to be more professional in their presentation, reminding them that the commission monitors for compliance round the clock.

 

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