…Threatens to Sanction Station …Moves to Clobber Mounting Anti-Buhari Views Smarting from the big stick it wielded against Channels TV last May, the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) has again queried the station over the “inciting, divisive and unfair comments” made by Benue State Governor, Mr Samuel Ortom, on the TV’s ‘Sunrise Daily’ breakfast programme on
…Threatens to Sanction Station
…Moves to Clobber Mounting Anti-Buhari Views
Smarting from the big stick it wielded against Channels TV last May, the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) has again queried the station over the “inciting, divisive and unfair comments” made by Benue State Governor, Mr Samuel Ortom, on the TV’s ‘Sunrise Daily’ breakfast programme on Tuesday.
In a letter titled, “Notice of Infraction” dated August 24, 2021, and signed by its Director-General, Mr Balarabe Ilelah, NBC said, “The programme which had as guest the Executive Governor of Benue State, Governor Samuel Ortom, was observed to contain inciting, divisive and unfair comments which were not thoroughly interrogated by the anchors.”
It said the actions negated Sections 1.10.4, 3.1.1, 3.3.1(b), 3.3.1(e), 3.11.1(a), and 3.12.2 of the Nigeria Broadcasting Code.
“Consequently, Channels Television is required to explain why appropriate sanctions should not be applied for these infractions of the Nigeria Broadcasting Code. Your response should reach the Commission within 24 hours of the receipt of this letter,” the NBC said.
Sources say the government was equally unsettled by the startling revelations of Commodore Kunle Olawunmi, a former Naval intelligence officer who was also featured by the TV station on Wednesday but NBC opted to hinge its distaste on the comments by Ortom for tactical reasons.
Olawunmi, also a professor of global security studies, had claimed that sponsors of Boko Haram and banditry across the country are in the National Assembly and the Presidency while some superintends over states as Governors, blaming the absence of political will by President Muhammadu Buhari to prosecute culprits for why insecurity continues to fester in the country.
Ortom, who was a guest on the TV programme on Tuesday morning, had said, “Mr President is pushing me to think that what they say about him, that he has a hidden agenda in this country is true because it is very clear that he wants to fulanise but he is not the first Fulani President.
“Shagari was a Fulani President, Yar’ Adua was a Fulani President and they were the best in the history. But President Buhari is the worst President when it comes to issues of security and keeping his promises.
“Go back to 2015, what did he say, human rights issues, he talked about press freedom, about the economy, corruption, security, tell me one that Mr President has achieved.
“He has achieved some level of development in other sectors but these prominent things that are concerns to Nigerians and we are all worried about.. tell me when Mr President has come out to address them. Is it corruption, we are worse in the history of this country.”
The fiery governor had also decried the President’s stance on open grazing. Buhari had approved recommendations of a committee to review 368 grazing sites, across 25 states in the country, “to determine the levels of encroachment.”
“If Mr President respects the law, the Land Use Act gives Governors the power to preside over land administration on behalf of the people that they govern.
“So it is amazing and I am surprised to hear this coming from Mr President as if he doesn’t have an Attorney General, or Lawyers around him to advise him. I think Mr President was misquoted or he did it out of error. He should come out to apologise to Nigerians,” Ortom had added.
But the Presidency which has had a not too chummy relationship with the Benue State helmsman, came hard on Ortom on Wednesday, accusing him of using sectarian language similar to that of the Rwandan Genocide of 1994, while responding to the security challenges in his state.
Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr Garba Shehu, in a statement had said, “In an attempt to boost his sinking political fortunes, Ortom takes the cheapest and lowest route possible by playing on ethnic themes – and in doing so knowingly causes deaths of innocent Nigerians by inciting farmers against herders, and Christians against Muslims.”
The “good, and fair-minded people of Benue State deserve more than this, and we look forward to the next election when they have an opportunity to restore its greatness,” Garba added.
The Buhari administration seems to be blurred by its predictions to muzzle the press in the country by goading the National Assembly to amend the Nigeria Press Council Act and the National Broadcasting Commission Act, a move that has been fiercely opposed by media stakeholders who described it as an information blackout akin to the infamous Protection Against False Accusations Decree, otherwise known as Decree 4 of 1984.
The NBC, which appears lately to have become a tool for the Information Ministry to whip offending broadcast stations into line, had in July directed television and radio stations not to divulge “details” of the activities of bandits, terrorists and kidnappers in their reports but media chiefs in the country had rebuffed what they perceived as an attempt to whip the media around the Minister’s little finger. They had advised the Buhari administration to, instead, proffer solutions to the security challenges plaguing the nation.
The NBC had in May imposed a fine of N5million each on Channels TV and Inspiration FM Lagos for alleged infractions of the broadcasting code.
Channels TV had featured the spokesperson for the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra, Emma Powerful, on its ‘Politics Today’ programme.
Meanwhile, the NBC has summoned the presenters of Sun Rise Daily, a breakfast show on Channels Television over some recent interviews perceived to be critical of the President, Muhammadu Buhari.
The summon according to Prof Chidi Odinkalu, former chairman, National Human Rights Commission, may not be unconnected to the utterances made by some guests brought to the programme on Wednesday.
They included the Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom, and a former Nigerian Navy officer, Commodore Kunle Olawunmi (retd.).
Olawunmi had said Boko Haram terrorists mentioned names of current Governors, senators and Aso Rock officials as sponsors during interrogation by the military authorities.
He, however, said President Muhammadu Buhari’s government failed to demonstrate the necessary political will to go after the high-profile politicians for reasons best known to it.
Olawunmi, a professor of Global Security Studies, said he was a member of the Intelligence Brief at Defence Headquarters during the leadership of the then Chief of Defence Staff, Gen. Abayomi Olonisakin.
According to him, the government had not been able to prosecute the sponsors because it was allegedly partisan.
He added that the Department of State Services had tremendous information on terrorists but they could not do anything except by the body language of the Commander-In-Chief.
Last May, the government revealed that it had arrested 400 sponsors of terrorism in the country but it appears clay footed in prosecuting them.
Falana and Falana Chambers has via a Freedom of Information Act asked the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation, Mr Abubakar Malami to disclose the status of the arrested 400 terrorist sponsors.