Media in Nigeria awakens to a new wave of government censorship as popularity of the ruling class plunges.
In a new wave of censorship, the Nigerian government has clamped down on four media houses, worsening the deteriorating climate for journalists and news organizations in the country.
The National Broadcasting Commission, Nigeria’s media regulator, on Monday announced it penalised four radio stations, including two government media and one privately run radio station for ‘unprofessional broadcasts.’
The commission said it had fined FRCN Kaduna zonal station and Liberty FM, both in Kaduna; and Adamawa Broadcasting Corporation and Gotel Radio, in Adamawa State.
The Acting Head of Media of the Commission, Maimuna Jinaida, said all four stations were penalized for offences bothering on how they conducted some programs, including LIVE call-ins.
The censorship is coming barely one week after four Leadership Newspapers journalists were detained by Nigerian security agents.
Liberty Radio and Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria (FRCN) were slammed with N2 million fine each by the NBC over phone-in discussion programmes.
Liberty radio drew the angst of the government after a caller opposed a nationwide tour by Nigeria’s Information Minister, Labaran Maku, meant to launder the image of the government.
The program was LIVE and emphasised a general discontent for the tour which many Nigerians perceive as a total waste of public funds and time. Opinion prefects have described the tour as a “scam” while a few state governors accused the touring minister of extortion.
The caller on Liberty Radio protested the amount the Kaduna State Government spent to host the touring minister and other members of the tour.
In addition to the fine, the regulator ordered that Liberty Radio brings in the information minister as a guest.
FRCN Kaduna, a government run radio station was also fined N2 million for airing a live interview on its Saturday programme, Hanu Dayawa, where former Zamfara State Governor, Ahmed Yerima – an opposition senator – criticised the government.
“Our station, although run by the government, is perceived to be too accommodating of opposition views,” a source at the station told PREMIUM TIMES.
The station recently had the governor of Niger State, Aliyu Babangida, on air accusing President Goodluck Jonathan of treachery over an agreement with governors of the Peoples Democratic Party in 2011 to spend only one term in office.
Only last week, the Nigerian government also banned the airing and distribution of the documentary, Fuelling Poverty, a 30-minute film which documents the systematic propagation of massive poverty in Nigeria and advocates against corruption and greed in the country.
The government said the documentary had contents that “are highly provocative and likely to incite or encourage public disorder and undermine national security.”
Two years after it came to power, the ruling government’s popularity appears plunging and criticism is mounting in the media.
As the Nigerian press struggles to regain its dissipating freedom, the regulators warn of stiffer clamp downs.
The regulator would “impose stricter sanctions on broadcasting stations that failed to ensure proper gate-keeping and professionalism in all programmes transmitted on their stations” Mrs. Jinaida warned.