The National Broadcasting Commission has queried Channels Television over the “inciting, divisive and unfair comments” made by Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom, on the TV’s ‘Sunrise Daily’ breakfast programme on Tuesday.
It was also gathered that the commission is not comfortable with an interview granted by a former Navy Commodore, Kunle Olawunmi, who alleged that current members of the Buhari cabinet are Boko Haram sponsors.
The Commission has since summoned anchors of the programme who honoured the invitation and are at the NBC office in Abuja.
The NBC, in a letter to the television station titled, ‘Notice of Infraction’, said, “The programme which had as guest the Executive Governor of Benue State, Governor Samuel Ortom, was observed to contain inciting, divisive and unfair comments which were not thoroughly interrogated by the anchors.”
The regulator’s letter was dated August 24, 2021, and signed by its Director-General, Balarabe Ilelah.
It said the actions allegedly negated Sections 1.10.4, 3.1.1, 3.3.1(b), 3.3.1(e), 3.11.1(a), and 3.12.2 of the Nigeria Broadcasting Code.
“Consequently, Channels Television is required to explain why appropriate sanctions should not be applied for these infractions of the Nigeria Broadcasting Code. Your response should reach the Commission within 24 hours of the receipt of this letter,” the NBC said.
Ortom, who was a guest on the TV programme on Tuesday morning, had said, “Mr President is pushing me to think that what they say about him, that he has a hidden agenda in this country is true because it is very clear that he wants to fulanise but he is not the first Fulani president.
“Shagari was a Fulani President, Yar’ Adua was a Fulani President and they were the best in the history. But President Buhari is the worst President when it comes to issues of security and keeping his promises.
“Go back to 2015, what did he say, human rights issues, he talked about press freedom, about the economy, corruption, security, tell me one that Mr President has achieved.
“He has achieved some level of development in other sectors but these prominent things that are concerns to Nigerians and we are all worried about.. tell me when Mr President has come out to address them. Is it corruption, we are worse in the history of this country.”
The outspoken fiery governor had also flayed the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari’s stance on open grazing. Buhari had approved recommendations of a committee to review 368 grazing sites, across 25 states in the country, “to determine the levels of encroachment.”
“If Mr President respects the law, the Land Use Act gives governors the power to preside over land administration on behalf of the people that they govern.
“So it is amazing and I am surprised to hear this coming from Mr President as if he doesn’t have an Attorney General, or Lawyers around him to advise him. I think Mr President was misquoted or he did it out of error. He should come out to apologise to Nigerians,” Ortom had added.
The Presidency subsequently came hard on the governor on Wednesday and accused him of using sectarian language similar to that of the Rwandan Genocide of 1994, while reacting to the security challenges in his state.
Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, in a statement had said, “In an attempt to boost his sinking political fortunes, Ortom takes the cheapest and lowest route possible by playing on ethnic themes – and in doing so knowingly causes deaths of innocent Nigerians by inciting farmers against herders, and Christians against Muslims.”
Garba had added that the “good, and fair-minded people of Benue State deserve more than this, and we look forward to the next election when they have an opportunity to restore its greatness.”
The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed has in recent times attempted to muzzle the press in Nigeria by prodding the National Assembly to amend the Nigeria Press Council Act and the National Broadcasting Commission Act, one that has been fiercely opposed by media stakeholders who described the move as an information blackout akin to the infamous Protection Against False Accusations Decree, otherwise known as Decree 4 of 1984.
The NBC under Mohammed had in July directed television and radio stations not to divulge “details” of the activities of bandits, terrorists and kidnappers in their reports but media chiefs in the country had said the press won’t be silenced. They had advised the Buhari regime to, instead, proffer solutions to the security challenges plaguing the nation.
The NBC had in May slammed a fine of N5million each on Channels TV and Inspiration FM Lagos for alleged infractions of the broadcasting code.
Channels TV had featured the spokesperson for the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra, Emma Powerful, on its ‘Politics Today’ programme.