Radio Now 95.3 FM has said the National Broadcasting Commission’s directive to broadcast stations to suspend the patronage of microblogging site Twitter amounts to an attack on the media and freedom of speech.
The radio station conveyed its dismay while reacting to the directive which the NBC made via press statement dated June 6, 2021, asking that: All broadcasting stations in Nigeria suspend the patronage of Twitter immediately, Uninstall Twitter handles and Desist from using Twitter as a source of information gathering further warning that “it will be unpatriotic for any broadcaster in Nigeria to continue to patronise the suspended Twitter.”
“We believe this amounts to an attack on the media and freedom of speech both of which are guaranteed by the Constitution of Nigeria. Section 39(1) guarantees freedom of expression as a fundamental right. Section 22 of Nigeria’s Constitution guarantees press freedom by stating that the press, radio, television, and other agencies of the mass media shall at all time be free to uphold the fundamental objectives contained in this chapter and uphold the responsibility and accountability of the government to the people. We believe the notice by NBC goes against these laws.” it stated in the statement signed by its Managing Director, Kadaria Ahmed.
Radio Now, it further stated will, under duress, comply with the directive of the commission while consulting with its lawyers on the legality of this directive.
“The advice we receive will determine our next steps. It is important to state that we too are dismayed at the direction our beloved nation is headed but while we recognise the responsibility of the government to act where it sees a threat to the country, we believe such decisions must consider the implication for press freedom, our fragile democracy and the impact on livelihoods.
“Solutions that continue to give Nigerians the use of what has become a tool for freedom, that has democratised information particularly for minorities and the most vulnerable in society; while also fighting against hate speech are surely the way forward,” the radio station continued.
It said that Radio Now is not convinced a ban on Twitter, and a directive by NBC, barring broadcasting stations from using the platform is the right way.
“We urge the government to go back and engage with experts many of whom abound in the country on how to fight hate speech, misinformation and disinformation while respecting and upholding rights that are fundamental in a democracy”.