The Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE) had kicked against the constant sanctions and fines imposed on broadcast stations by the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC).
The Guild, in a statement signed by its President, Mustapha Isah; and General Secretary, Mary Atolagbe, on Saturday, condemned the commission for not granting the broadcast stations fair hearing.
They described the N5 million fines imposed on Channels Television and Inspiration FM for alleged infractions as punitive, arbitrary and against press freedom.
The guild called on the NBC to withdraw the fines and stop harassing broadcast stations over matters that could be resolved through dialogue.
The statement read, “The NBC is punishing Channels TV for interviewing the spokesman of the Indigenous People of Biafra, while Inspiration FM is facing the hammer of the NBC for broadcasting a statement by IPOB, declaring a sit-at-home order.
“Once again, the NBC has played the role of an accuser, the prosecutor and the judge. In a democratic country like ours, a panel should have been set up to investigate the alleged infractions, with both stations given the opportunity for defence.
“The NBC is clearly at variance with the tenets of democracy anchored on freedom of expression and a free press. The guild therefore calls on the NBC to withdraw these obnoxious fines and stop the harassment of broadcasting stations over matters that could easily be resolved through dialogue.”
The guild recalled that the Voice of America (VOA), Hausa Service, recently interviewed the leader of a terrorist group behind the abduction of 22 students of Greenfield University, Kaduna State.
It noted that though the terrorists threatened to kill the remaining students in their custody in the interview, the American regulatory authorities did not impose any fine on the station.
“Neither the American authorities nor any other regulatory agency imposed sanctions on VOA for this interview. The Nigerian Broadcasting Code should be reviewed without delay to reflect democratic principles.
“Broadcasting stations in Nigeria should not be made to operate in an atmosphere of fear. A free press is needed to nurture and sustain democracy in Nigeria,” it said.