The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has given the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) 48 hours to rescind the fines imposed on three television stations, warning that it would not hesitate to institute a legal action afterwards.
Earlier on Monday, the NBC had has sanctioned Arise TV, Channels TV and AIT over their alleged roles in the escalation of violence across the nation, slamming fines between N2million and N3million.
The stations were accused of airing unverified images of the alleged shooting at the Lekki Toll Plaza last Tuesday.
But SERAP in a statement on Monday said it would head to court if the unconstitutional fines are not rescinded within 48 hours.
According to SERAP, the action by the NBC was another example of Nigerian authorities’ push to silence independent media and voices.
The statement read, “We condemn the illegal fines of N9m reportedly imposed by the National Broadcasting Commission on Channels TV, AIT and Arise TV [N3m each] over their coverage of the #EndSARS protests.
“This action by the NBC is yet another example of Nigerian authorities’ push to silence independent media and voices. The NBC should drop the fines and uphold Nigerian constitution and international obligations to respect and protect freedom of expression and media freedom.
“The fines are detrimental to freedom of expression and the media, and access to information in Nigeria, and the NBC must withdraw the decision.
“Media freedom and media plurality are a central part of the effective exercise of freedom of expression and access to information.
“The ability to practice journalism free from undue interference, to cover peaceful protests, and critical views are crucial to the exercise of many other rights and freedoms.
“The media has a vital role to play as ‘public watchdog’ in imparting information of serious public concern and should not be inhibited or intimidated from playing that role.
“The NBC should stop targeting and intimidating independent media and voices.”