The Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE) has condemned the suspension of the licences of the African Independent Television (AIT) and Ray Power by the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) and demanded its reversal.
The NGE expressed its view in a statement made available to newsmen in Abuja on Friday.
In the statement signed by President of the Guild, Mrs Funke Egbemode, the editors appealed to President Muhammadu Buhari, to use his good offices to call the NBC to order to revoke the suspension.
The NBC on June 6, announced the suspension of the licence of the media outfit, DAAR Communication PLC, owners of AIT and Ray power, a radio station until further notice.
The Director General, NBS, Modibbo Kawu, had accused the broadcasting organisation of refusing to abide by the code governing its operations, adding that this was the reason the licence was suspended.
The Guild demanded in clear terms the revocation of the suspension order as it runs contrary to the ideals of free speech and the fine tenets of press freedom.
According to the Egbemode, this is a case of Executive highhandedness and it paints our dear country in the darkest tar of dictatorship.
“The Fourth Estate of the Realm remains the watchdog of society and any attempt to gag it in any guise is an affront on democracy and the people.
“The Guild is concerned about the violation of the constitutional rights of DAAR Communications and absence of media freedom in performing their roles as the watchdog of the Nigerian society.
“The Guild is strongly of the opinion that the NBC, in exercising its regulatory powers, should concentrate on implementing policies that will position Nigeria’s broadcasting to compete in the global spheres.
“It is to be recalled that NBC had, before the 2019 general elections, shut down Joy FM in Jos for violations of the broadcasting code.
“In 2018, the NBC shut down Ekiti Radio/TV station. Shutting down stations and withdrawing licences are too extreme in the circumstance.
“There must be humane and saner ways to resolve disputes bordering on violation of the Broadcasting Code, rather than engage in witch-hunting and unnecessary show of excessive force,” NGE further stated.
The president of the NGE, however, expressed concern that NBC action had thrown thousands of Nigerians into the already saturated labour market and should not be trophy for good corporate governance of a regulator.
She expressed the Guild’s solidarity with DAAR communication family, urging the staff and management to remain calm as the Guild liaises with well meaning Nigerians and other media professionals to get justice.