By Johnbosco Agbakwuru
The National Association of Seadogs (Pyrates Confraternity) has lambasted the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), over what it called “blatant assault on press freedom.”
NAS in a statement signed by its President, Mr. Abiola Owoaje, declared that the directive by the regulatory body to television and radio stations not to “divulge” details of bandits, kidnappers and terrorists during Newspaper reviews was unconstitutional.
He said that such directive violates freedom of expression of citizens and seeks to prevent the press from performing its duties enshrined in Section 22 of the 1999 Nigerian Constitution (as amended) which is intended to hold government accountable on behalf of the people.
Mr. Owoaje in a statement titled: “NBC’s bullying of the media unacceptable” stated that the regulatory body by its latest action wanted to suppress press freedom and restrict access of information to Nigerians, adding that it was intended to criminalize journalism and prevents victims of terrorism, banditry and other associated crimes from getting justice.
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According to the statement, “The National Association of Seadogs (Pyrates Confraternity) notes with considerable concern the sudden brazenness, repressive instincts and open partisanship being exhibited by the NBC in the interpretation of its regulatory remit in recent times. We unequivocally condemn these unethical attempts by the NBC to browbeat radio and television stations, and other organs of the Press, in a desperate bid to cow the Press.
“Besides, we cannot find any justification for the bizarre NBC directive; even on the hackneyed excuse of a security necessity, other than to keep Nigerians in the dark about the uncomfortable reality of the insurgency and the seeming inability of the security agencies to halt the spate of insecurity across the country.”
The NAS President argued that contrary to what the security agencies would want Nigerians to believe, ferocious attacks on insurgents, kidnappers, killer herdsmen and bandits continue unabated in the country.
He said, “We implore the executive arm of government to rein in the NBC to desist from its overt clampdown on press freedom. The NBC should withdraw its illegal directive as it is unhelpful and counterproductive to the fight against insecurity in the country.
”Rather than see the media as the enemy, the media should be seen as a patriotic partner that can rally Nigerians to support the efforts of the government in tackling the myriad of security challenges afflicting our country. A free and unfettered press makes democracy thrive and is not merely a liberal indulgence. This is what Nigerians need. This is what we demand. We reject the shackles the NBC wants to foist on the media.”