The House of Representatives Minority Caucus has described the alleged harassment of Channels Television and its staff as a toxic push against press freedom and citizens’ rights.
The caucus in a statement on Friday, signed by the House Minority Leader, Ndudi Elumelu (PDP, Delta), condemned the query issued the Channels Television and the invitation of its presenters by the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC).
The lawmakers frowned at the growing clampdown on the media and the lack of neutrality on the part of the regulatory agency.
“As lawmakers, we hold that rather than try to muffle the media, the broadcast regulator should have directed the television station to avail the Federal Government the opportunity to refute with facts, the statements of Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State during the Sunrise Daily programme, which it considered critical or misrepresentation of the government
“The commandeering of Channels Television presenters to NBC’s headquarters in Abuja, the query of the television outfit, and the unrelenting intimidation of independent broadcast media outfits by the NBC is most inauspicious.”
The lawmakers reminded the federal government of the call by the governor of the president’s (Muhammadu Buhari’s) home state of Katsina, Aminu Masari, on the need for people to defend themselves.
They wondered how Masari’s call was different from the attempt by Ortom to hold the federal government to account on the failure to check the killings in his state.
“Both confirm the total breakdown of security in the land. Our caucus insists that when bloody bandits and terrorists find their ways into an elite military training institution like the Nigerian Defence Academy (NDA), it presupposes nothing else but a brutal violation of our sovereignty and an unedited collapse of government and security.
“In that regard, the federal government should take steps to reassure the people rather than trying to muffle information.
“It is also high time the NBC eschewed partisanship and also understood that regulation does not presuppose the suppression of truth, but the promotion of it,” the caucus added.