Frank Tietie
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NBC’s high-handedness, threat to democracy, says human rights lawyer, Frank Tietie

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A human rights lawyer and the Executive Director of Citizens Advocacy for Social and Economic Rights (CASER), Mr Frank Tietie, has accused the the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) of high-handedness, warning that it is capable of threatening Nigeria’s democracy.

This is as he urged the commission to apply caution when acting on petitions of political parties against media organisations.

The appeal came against the backdrop of the recent sanction against Channels Television, by the NBC after a petition by one of the All Progressives Party (APC)‘s Presidential Campaign Committee (PCC), Mr Bayo Onanuga, a senior journalist and publisher of PMNews online newspaper based in Lagos.

Persecondnews recalls that the NBC recently slammed a fine of N5 million on Channels Television for ‘breaking the broadcasting law’ in an interview with Labour Party Vice-Presidential candidate, Dr Datti Baba-Ahmed.

In the interview by the anchor of Politics Today, Seun Okibaloye, on Wednesday, March 22, Dr Baba-Ahmed said: “lt will be unconstitutional to swear in APC’s Bola Tinubu as the President-elect on May 29, 2023, because of election irregularities.”

The NBC described the statement by Baba-Ahmed as volatile and capable of inciting public disorder.

Speaking as a guest on Arise Television’s ‘The Morning Show’, on Tuesday, monitored by Persecondnews, Tietie noted that the speed at with which the sanction was imposed on the television station was wrong.

He said: “The NBC is being high-handed and it’s a big problem. The high-handedness of the NBC is actually threatening democracy. It must retrace its steps or else it is going to be a serious undoing to the stability of Nigeria.

“How can the NBC defy section 36 of the constitution? You are the accuser, the Judge and then you impose fine without giving opportunity for fair hearing.

“I think they have been given too much allowance. The NBA forgets that we are practicing democracy in Nigeria; it’s not just a preference, it’s a constitutional declaration and the twin pillars upon which democracy rest its right to vote at elections and free speech.

“The irony of free speech is that when you talk about open governance, it’s about truth. We see increasingly the government being afraid of the speech.

“When things are made open, when people express themselves freely, there is greater confidence and less conflict in the polity. But, when you as a regulator that is meant to uphold standards is now the one that is used to contract the media space, you are antagonizing democracy, and that is what NBC does.

“Government is not a tea party. You think you can come into government and not want to be scrutinized? Everything about government is open.”

“People will definitely scrutinize you because you are being held to high standards and these standards are constitutionally mandated upon the press to hold the government officials to account and there’s nothing wrong with that,” Tietie said.

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