The Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE) has demanded an immediate revocation of the suspension order of the licenses of DAAR Communication Plc, owners of AIT, RayPower and Faaji FM.
According to the Guild, the suspension order runs contrary to the ideals of free speech and the fine tenets of press freedom.
In a statement signed by its President, Mrs. Funke Egbemode, and General Secretary, Mrs. Mary Atolagbe, the Guild described the action of the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) as a case of executive highhandedness.
The guild added that the suspension of the broadcast licenses of DAAR communication paints Nigeria in the darkest tar of dictatorship.
The statement reads: “The Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE) hereby condemns in very strong terms the indefinite suspension of the licenses of the African Independent Television, AIT, Ray Power by the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC).
“The Guild demands in clear terms the revocation of the suspension order as it runs contrary to the ideals of free speech and the fine tenets of press freedom. This is a case of Executive highhandedness and it paints our dear country in the darkest tar of dictatorship.
“The Fourth Estate of the Realm remains the watchdog of society and any attempt to gag it in any guise is an affront on democracy and the people. The NBC must and should rescind this ignoble and despicable decision.
“The Guild strongly believes the NBC action is a draconian form of regulation, being out of tune with democratic principles. The Guild is concerned about the violation of the constitutional rights of DAAR Communications and the absence of media freedom, independence and the stifling of operations of media outfits which are performing their roles as the watchdog of the Nigerian society.
“The NGE condemns in strong terms the barbaric crackdown on the broadcast outfit and demands the immediate cessation of this atrocious repression and excessive show of power by the NBC, whose duty is to regulate and not kill the media.
“Muzzling the media and throwing thousands of Nigerians into the already saturated labor market should not be the trophy for good corporate governance of a regulator; it is something to be ashamed of and NBC should be ashamed at its action in a fledgling democracy in the 21st Century.
“The Guild is strongly of the opinion that the NBC, in exercising its regulatory powers, should concentrate on implementing policies that will position Nigeria’s broadcasting to compete in the global spheres, rather than engage in witch-hunting and unnecessary show of excessive force. The Guild hereby expresses its solidarity with the AIT/Raypower family, urging the staff and management to remain calm as the Guild liaises with and other media professionals as well as well meaning Nigerians to get justice.
“The NGE appeals to President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR, to use his good offices to call NBC to order.
“It is to be recalled that NBC had, before the 2019 general election, shut down Joy FM in Jos for violations of the broadcasting code. Last year, the NBC shut down Ekiti Radio/TV station. Shutting down stations and withdrawing licences are too extreme in the circumstance. There must be humane and saner ways to resolve disputes bordering on violation of the Broadcasting Code.”