By Usman Shuaibu
The National Broadcasting Commission, NBC, has threatened to wield the big stick on the AIT television station over what it described as consistent and blatant violations of the 6th NBC Code.
Addressing press conference in Abuja on Wednesday, the NBC’s Director-General, Is’haq Modibbo-Kawu, AIT defied all action to ensure that the station complies with the Nigeria Broadcasting Code.
According to the D-G, in the last few months, the NBC’s monitoring reports indicated that AIT has continued to air programmes that dwell on the on-going case of the presidential elections, and issues relating to matters in law courts, without regards to the provisions of the Code.
He said: “On Monday 19th August to Sunday August 25, 2019, the station aired different documentaries centered on matters before the 2019 Presidential Election Tribunal; the action was prejudicial and could be termed contempt of court.
“Specifically, on Monday 19th August, 2019 a documentary titled “Who is a Nigerian” was aired between 10:00pm to 10:47pm. It centered on how the former provinces of Northern Cameroun became a Nigerian enclave.
“Track ups were given to some respondents who made statements like “Atiku is indeed a Nigerian”. This came a day after the APC had asked the Presidential Election tribunal to strike out Atiku/PDP petition on the basis of Section 131(a) of the Nigerian Constitution, which mandates that a presidential candidate must be Nigerian by birth.
“On Tuesday 20th August, 2019 between 10:00pm to 11:00pm, AIT aired another documentary titled “The Many Troubles of INEC: A Documentary on Mahmood Yakubu and the chequered Road to 2019”.
“This documentary contained an allegation that the 2019 Presidential Election was marred by a well-organised manipulation, violence and intimidations. It alleged that some actions taken by INEC were premeditated and schemed to favour the APC. It ended with Atiku’s petition seeking relief to be declared winner of the 2019 Presidential election on the nullification of the election.”
Continuing, the DG said the station on Wednesday 21st August, 2019, from 10:00pm to 10:36pm, aired a similar documentary “Who is a Nigerian” where references were made to how some communities, like Daura Emirate, were allegedly formerly part of Niger Republic, and have now become part of Nigeria.
“It queried what becomes of persons whose citizenship has been declared to be non-Nigerian. The program also appeared to promote the cause of the proscribed IPOB (Indigenous People of Biafra) saying their agitation is legitimate, under the United Nation Charter on Universal Declaration of Human and People’s Rights.
“Again, on Thursday 22nd August, 2019 between 10:00pm and 10:30pm, there was a repeat of the documentary “Nigerian Judiciary on Trial: Lessons from Kenya” first aired on 23rd May 2019, and for which the station was warned.
“On Friday 23rd August, 2019 another documentary “INEC and the Agony of a Nation” started and ended after one minute; a documentary on Akwa Ibom was taken instead,”Mr Modibbo-Kawu noted.
Mr Modibbo-Kawu stated that the AIT also aired another documentary on Sunday 25th August, 2019 with title “INEC and Qualification Requirements. The facts, The Issues” from 10:40pm to 10:56pm.
According to him, the documentary called on the court, as the last hope of the common man, to correct an alleged dereliction of duty on the part of INEC in allowing an individual who is not eligible to contest an election to do so.
Mr Modibbo-Kawu, however, warned broadcast station to refrain from the “persistent breaches of the Nigeria Broadcasting Code” or face severe sanctions that the new, sixth edition of the Code has prescribed.”