A former Deputy National Publicity Secretary of the All Progressives Congress (APC) Timi Frank has described the suspension of the broadcast license of Daar Communications as an attempt by the Muhammadu Buhari government to gag the press.
Concise News had reported that the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) on Thursday suspended the operating licenses of the Africa Independent Television (AIT) and RayPower FM owned by Daar Communications.
This, according to NBC, was due to the company’s continued breach of the country’s broadcast code.
However, a statement by Frank described it as a move to muzzle the press, a major feature of military governments.
“This represents an unfortunate and lamentable oppression of the media and direct suppression of Press Freedom in the country by the General Muhammadu Buhari regime which must not be allowed to stand,” he said.
According to him, “The ongoing pacification, intimidation and emasculation of the Nigerian Media to confer totalitarian powers on the General Muhammadu Buhari’s regime and enable it to ride roughshod over Nigerians without censure or criticism.”
This is as he warned that “This unfortunate action, I dare say, marks the beginning of the #NextLevel policy of intimidation and persecution of the Nigerian media by the General Buhari’s regime.
“Make no mistakes, this closure is meant to serve as a lesson to other media houses and forcefully stop them from exposing Buhari’s ineptness and cluelessness in governance to members of the public.”
He further said, “Brace up for more ferocious attacks by the present regime, saying that any media organisation that considers the ongoing effort to kill AIT and RayPower FM as an isolated incident should have a rethink.
“In January this year, armed soldiers invaded and occupied the offices of Media Trust Limited – Publishers of the Daily Trust Newspapers – in Maiduguri and Abuja, seized their laptops, computers, arrested and detained its top reporters and editors.
“We must not also forget the illegal detention of a Premium Times journalist, Samuel Ogundipe, for three days for publishing a story from a report on the invasion of the Senate authored by the immediate past IGP, Ibrahim Idris, to the President.”
Additionally, he noted that “Freedom of the press remains one of the indispensable indices of any genuine democratic governance. Those who trample on press freedom have invariably trampled on democracy and the inalienable rights and freedom of the people.”
“Where in the world would can you ask private broadcast outfits – without public power supply – to renew their licenses with N500million annually and yet expect them to meet their running cost, pay salaries and keep afloat in an already comatose economy?”