NIGERIA’S main opposition the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has accused the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) of seeking to turn the nation into a dictatorship following its recent decision to shut down media house Daar Communications.
Yesterday, the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) decided to suspend the license of Daar Communications, the owner of AIT television station and Ray Power FM radio until further notice. NBC director-general, Modibbo Kawu, who announced the development said the action was taken after failure of the radio station, to abide by the broadcasting code.
However, the PDP claimed it was an attempt by the APC-controlled federal government to cage the media. Pointing out that Mr Kawu was a card-carrying member of the APC and contested in the last Kwara State governorship election, the PDP said it is evident that the attack on AIT is aimed at intimidating and gagging the media, repress constitutionally guaranteed freedom of speech and stifle public opinion, particularly as related to the determination by Nigerians to retrieve the stolen presidential mandate at the election tribunal.
PDP spokesman Kola Ologbondiyan, said: “This clampdown on AIT as well as the earlier siege on other media houses and journalists under the APC administration, ostensibly point to a plot to frighten and asphyxiate the media, shut down outlets perceived to hold dissenting views and ultimately foist a siege mentality on our citizenry to restrain their demand for fairness and justice in the polity. The APC is mortally afraid that a free press will raise the red flag and expose its manipulations and any attempt to subvert the course of justice, especially in the presidential petition, hence this desperation to strangulate the media and cow Nigerians from freely expressing themselves.
“Moreover, the PDP invites Nigerians to note that the director-general of the NBC, Ishaq Modibbo Kawu, is a card-carrying member and frontline leader in the APC who was also an aspirant on the platform of the party for the governorship of Kwara State. The PDP notes that there can be no democracy without a free press and to stifle the media is an invitation to fascism and a return to the era of obnoxious military Decrees 2 and 4, which must be resisted by all.”
He called on Nigerians and the international community to unite in condemning this desperation to gag the media and repress free speech in Nigeria. Mr Ologbondiyan said the PDP also charged the media to remain professional and steadfast in their constitutional role of holding the government and its institutions accountable and not be intimidated by oppressive forces that seek to subjugate Nigerians.
Former vice president and the PDP’s 2019 presidential candidate Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, added: “If, at this time, we stand by as the press loses its independence, there will be little to differentiate us from a dictatorship. This should not happen.”
Mr Kawu had accused AIT and Ray Power airing a presidential election documentary when the matter was still pending before a tribunal. He also explained that the inability of the company to pay its fees, the use of divisive and inciting contents from the social media among others was responsible to the suspension, which violated Nigeria’s 2004 broadcasting code.