A Lagos-based radio station, Radio Now 95.3FM, which was launched in 2020 has faulted the recent directive from National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) that television and radio stations should deactivate their Twitter accounts.
While the NBC warned that “it will be unpatriotic for any broadcaster in Nigeria to continue to patronise the suspended Twitter”, Executive director of the radio station, Kadaria Ahmed said the directive amounts to an attack on the media and freedom of speech, both of which are guaranteed by the Constitution of Nigeria.
Ahmed pointed out that Section 22 of Nigeria’s constitution guarantees press freedom by stating that the press, radio, television, and other agencies of the mass media shall at all time be free to uphold the fundamental objectives. She added that they will be engaging their lawyers on the legality of the order.
The statement read;
“We believe this amounts to an attack on the media and freedom of speech, both of which are guaranteed by the Constitution of Nigeria.
“Section 22 of Nigeria’s constitution guarantees press freedom by stating that the press, radio, television, and other agencies of the mass media shall at all time be free to uphold the fundamental objectives contained in this chapter and uphold the responsibility and accountability of the government to the people.
”We believe the notice by NBC goes against these laws. Radio Now will, under duress, comply with the directive of the commission while consulting with our lawyers on the legality of this directive.
“The advice we receive will determine our next steps. It is important to state that we too are dismayed at the direction our beloved nation is headed but while we recognise the responsibility of the government to act where it sees a threat to the country, we believe such decisions must consider the implications for press freedom, our fragile democracy & the impact on livelihoods.
“Solutions that continue to give Nigerians the use of what has become a tool for freedom, that has democratised information particularly for minorities and the most vulnerable in society; while also fighting against hate speech are surely the way forward.
“Radio Now is not convinced a ban on Twitter, and a directive by NBC, barring broadcasting stations from using the platform is the right way. We urge the government to go back and engage with experts, many of whom abound in the country, on how to fight hate speech, misinformation and disinformation while respecting and upholding rights that are fundamental in a democracy.”
Although the presidency says the ban is temporary and an attempt to curb fake news, human rights groups and foreign missions have berated the President Buhari-led administration for censorship, calling for a reversal of the suspension.