African Council for Communication Education (ACCE) has called on the Nigerian Broadcasting Commission (NBC) to immediately reverse the sanctions already imposed on three media firms over coverage of Endsars protest.
The Council has observed that as government regulatory body, NBC should not be both the accuser and the judge at the same time, on the same matter.
It would be recalled that the National Broadcasting Commission, NBC, had on Monday fined three private national television stations namely AIT, Channels and Arise News, claiming they used unverifiable video footages from social media to cover the #EndSARS protests.
In a release signed by the National President, African Council for Communication Education, Prof. Nnamdi T. Ekeanyanwu and made available to newsmen in Uyo on Tuesday, ACCE advised NBC to instead set up an appropriate body to investigate the mainstream media coverage of the ENDSARS protests.
Ekeanyanwu noted that with the recent happenings in Nigeria, which have shown that the media, not the judiciary, should be regarded as the last hope of the people, especially the so-called common man, every act that will smack off an attempt to muzzle the media must be resisted.
“Our expectation is that NBC should use fines and other punitive measures as a last resort. A proper investigation should precede any such punitive measures. There should be room for warning letters and cautions before such heavy sanctions that could be misconstrued as an attempt to muzzle the hard-earned freedom of the media. ACCE therefore calls on the NBC to immediately withdraw the sanctions already imposed on the three media firms and set up an appropriate body to investigate the mainstream media coverage of the ENDSARS protests and ensuing violence.’’
“The outcome of the investigative panel would definitely form part of future guidelines for most mainstream media in future handling of related conflicts,” the statement read. He congratulates the mainstream media for their show of professionalism in the midst of danger during the coverage of the ENDSARS protests and the violence that followed.’’
He therefore assured that “ACCE will remain at the forefront to protect media freedom as well as continue in her noble role in the training and retraining of media professionals to remain responsible, responsive, and professional in the discharge of their duties”.
Ekeanyanwu however condemns in totality any media establishment that must have used unverified video footage in its coverage.
He noted that while aligning its support for the rights of any segment of the population to apeaceful protest and legitimate agitation, the Council also condemned in very strong terms, the violence and wanton destruction of public and private properties alongside the widespread looting that took place all over the country during the protest.
“The Council also condemns in totality every form of extrajudicial killings that may have taken place during the period and called on the Federal Government of Nigeria to immediately set up a judicial body of enquiry to bring the perpetrators to book,’’ he submitted.