The International Press Centre (IPC), Lagos has expressed concern Federal Government over recent threat to sanction the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) and Trust Television for airing documentaries that allegedly glorified and fuelled terrorism and banditry in the country.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed had said: “The Federal Government is aware of the ‘unprofessional documentary’ by the BBC Africa Eye, where interviews were granted to bandit warlords and terror gangs, thereby promoting terror in the country.”
The Minister also condemned Trust TV, owned by Media Trust Ltd, for using its platform to grant an interview to a bandit, Shehu Rekeb, for allegedly promoting the activities of terrorists.
The Executive Director of IPC, Mr. Lanre Arogundade said, while it is appropriate for the government to complain against any news report it finds offensive, it is indefensible that the same government will hastily conclude that “appropriate sanctions would be meted out to both platforms.”
Speaking further, he said it is trite law that Mr. Lai Mohammed, who is also a lawyer, could not be the accuser, prosecutor, and judge in the matter at hand.
Rather than proclaim the media houses guilty, he stressed that the minimum standard of expectation is that the Federal Government would develop a petition and dispatch the same either to the concerned media, or to appropriate regulatory bodies for intervention, and wait for them to act.
He added that the government’s threat could be interpreted as an attempt to stifle information flow in the country.
According to him: “This threat is an attempt, among several others, by the government to suppress information flow from the media. Sanctioning media organisations for granting interviews to bandit warlords on issues that have to do with the security challenges facing the country is also a subtle attempt at suppressing the rights to information.”
“What the threat aims to achieve is to make the media a one-faced channel of information where it is only permitted to give perspectives from government sources, noting that this is inconsistent with the journalistic practice of engaging in balanced coverage and providing balanced information to citizens,” he added.