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Lekki shootings: SERAP threatens to sue NBC for sanctioning media houses

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The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project has asked the National Broadcasting Corporation to withdraw the sanctioning of AIT, Channels and Airse Television for airing reports about alledged shooting of EndSARS protesters by officers of the Nigeria military at Lekki toll gate.

SERAP described the penality NBC slammed on the affected media houses as unconstitutional.

In a statement by SERAP made available to journalists on Monday in Abuja, by its Deputy Director, Kolawole Oluwadare, titled ‘SERAP asks NBC to withdraw ‘illegal fines on Channels TV, AIT, Arise TV or face legal action’, the group said, NBC will face lawsuit if it refuses to withdraw the penalty.

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SERAP accused the NBC of pushing a government agenda to silence independent media houses, asking the. agency to drop the punishment and uphold Nigerian constitution and international obligations to respect and protect freedom of expression and media freedom.

The statement pointed out that it expected NBC to withdraw its sanctions within 48 hours, failure which it would be sued in the Court of justice.

The statement pointed: “This is a new low in Nigeria’s protection of freedom of expression, and the ability of independent media to function in the country. The fines are detrimental to media freedom, and access to information, and the NBC must immediately withdraw the decision.”

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“Media freedom and media plurality are a central part of the effective exercise of freedom of expression and access to information. The ability to practice journalism free from undue interference, to cover peaceful protests, and critical views are crucial to the exercise of many other rights and freedoms.”

According to SERAP, the watchdog nature of media was pivotal in imparting information into the society, hence, they should not be stampeded or intimidated for carrying out their statutory responsibilities.

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The statement urged President Muhammadu Buhari to caution NBC, saying that media houses have rights in the Nigerian Constitution 1999 as amended
1999 and the country’s international human rights obligations, including under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights.

CAPITAL POST reports that the acting Director-General of NBC, Prof. Armstrong Idachaba at a press conference on Monday in Abuja fined Channels Television, Arise Television, and Africa Independent Television for what it termed “unprofessional coverage” of the #EndSARS protests.

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