- Former vice president Atiku Abubakar has reacted to N5m fine slammed on a Lagos-based radio by NBC
- The broadcasting regulatory body had said the station was promoting hate speech after Mailafia's allegation on Boko Haram
- Atiku, however, noted that the NBC was wrong to have imposed the fine on the radio station
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Following the criticisms that greeted the N5m fine imposed on a Lagos-based radio station - 99.3 FM by the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), a former vice president, Atiku Abubakar, has berated the federal government over the action.
Channels TV reports that the former vice president in a statement he personally signed on Thursday, August 13, asked the NBC to drop the penalty against the station, describing the reason given for its action as an attempt to gag the media in the country.
Legit.ng gathered that he disagreed with the nation’s broadcasting regulatory agency with its argument that the interview that the station had with a former deputy governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Obadiah Mailafia, constituted any infringement and exposed the media outfit to trading in hate speech.
He argued that whether or not, what Mailafia said during the programme aired on the radio station was a false claim, it was not the responsibility of the NBC to impose a sanction for a comment made by an individual.
Atiku stressed that the former CBN deputy governor had been quizzed and released by law enforcement agents, adding that they were at liberty to prosecute him in court if they were not satisfied with his explanations.
He insisted that it was wrong to make a scapegoat of the media platform which provides opportunities for citizens to vent their views.
Atiku also called on the NBC to review the hate speech prohibition code, saying the interpretation of same was offensive to the notion of free speech.
The statement read in part: "We are compelled to react to the Nigeria Broadcasting Commission code concerning infringement on hate speech and the operational style that media houses should employ to conform with the new regulation.
"While there is no disputation over the fact that hate speech portends an existential threat to the enterprise of journalistic reporting and, in fact, inhibits the workings for a free society, it is absolutely repugnant that powers that be would instrumentalise the prevention of hate speech as a means of constricting free speech.
"Whether or not what Dr Mailafia said on the radio station was a false claim, it is outside of the objectives of a responsible regulatory framework to sanction a radio station for a comment an individual made, more so that the personality in question, Dr Obadiah, had been quizzed and released by law enforcement agents."
Meanwhile, Legit.ng had previously reported that a former member of the eight Senate, Shehu Sani, urged northern governors to focus on resolving the bloodshed in their regions instead of clamping down on Mailafia.
It was reported that Mailafia, a former presidential candidate of the African Democratic Congress, (ADC), had revealed that Boko Haram was plotting civil war in Nigeria in 2022.
In a related report, NBC warned that broadcast stations would face punitive actions over messages that insult the Nigerian president, governors, and other leaders.
The warning was issued in a letter to broadcast stations by Chibuike Ogwumike, zonal director of the NBC Lagos office. The letter which was dated August 3, warned against insulting messages from guests during programmes.
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