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NBC’s N5m fine against Channels TV: Akinnola chides Onanuga for masterminding fine, undermining press freedom

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Following a N5 million slammed on Channels Television by the Nigerian Broadcasting Commission (NBC) on the prompting of a senior journalist, Mr Bayo Onanuga, a senior journalist, lawyer and human rights, Mr Richard Akinnola II, has blasted Onanuga for undermining free speech and free press in the country.

Akinnola cautioned Onanuga, the spokesman of the President-Elect, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu against plunging the country into chaos and gagging the press.

Persecondnews recalls that Onanuga, the publisher of PMNews, an online newspaper and former Managing Director of the defunct The News magazine and Tempo, had petitioned the NBC over some statements credited to the Vice-Presidential Candidate of the Labour Party, Dr Datti Baba-Ahmed, on the television.

NBC, yeilding to Onanuga’s prompting, announced a fine of N5 million against Channels Television on Friday, a development which has drawn flak from Nigerians including the media.

Akinnola II, in an open letter to Onanuga which he posted on his facebook handle and sourced by Persecondnews, expressed shock over Onanuga’s actions despite being a victim of suppression of the press during military governments in Nigeria.

“You and l have been friends for several years, fought many battles together against the military, particularly against their onslaught on the free press.

” I, therefore, feel terribly pained that l have to publicly upbraid you for your recent public statements, particularly your petition against CHANNELS tv, to the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC).

“I’m still trying to wrap my head around your sudden 360 degrees against all you fought for under the military.

“You are yet to be in government and you have started exhibiting intolerance against the independent media, the same thing you fought for all your years.

“I’m sure your principal, who has been a lover of a free press, would be embarrassed by your position,” Akinnola Ii wrote.

He pointed out that Onanuga was unfair to the anchor of the TV programme, “Politics Today”, who he said cautioned Baba-Ahmed on his utterances during the interview.

Akinnola II said: “For eight years, despite all vitriolic attacks on the president, Femi Adesina, as Special Adviser, Media to the president, did not petition against any medium but ‘you wey never enter, don dey’ censor the media.

“Do l subscribe to unfettered press freedom? No. I believe every freedom comes with responsibility.

“However, when you create a perception that the incoming government would be intolerant of the free press, we need to sound the alarm bell.”

He promised to fight Onanuga if and when he becomes the presidential spokesman upon Tinubu’s inauguration to ensure press freedom in the country.

“Take notice that we would fight this your planned ‘insurrection’ against the independent media the way we, including you, fought Abacha’s dictatorship against the media,” Akinnola II said.

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