An opposition presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, Thursday condemned the closure of AIT and Ray Power FM, two of the country’s largest private broadcasters.
The National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) suspended the broadcast licences for both AIT and Ray Power FM on Thursday afternoon, citing a frequent breach of the broadcasting code.
The NBC, which regulates radio and television stations, said the AIT’s conduct had become “a bad example of how a professional broadcast outfit should not be run.”
The agency’s head, Modibbo Kawu, said AIT had been warned several times about breaches of broadcasting regulations but did not flinch.
The AIT and Ray Power FM, both owned by Raymond Dokpesi’s Daar Communications, strongly denied all allegations of wrongdoing, saying the Buhari administration was out to victimise them over of their perceived allegiance to the opposition.
Mr Dokpesi has been a long time member of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), and once contested to be the party’s chairman.
Mr Abubakar, in a short statement on Twitter, joined many Nigerians to condemn the closure of AIT, warning that the fabrics of Nigeria’s democracy were being shredded by the Buhari government.
I am a lifelong democrat and throughout my political life, I have championed the principles of Separation of Powers. The Legislature has been challenged. The Judiciary has been tackled.
— Atiku Abubakar (@atiku) June 6, 2019
“The Legislature has been challenged. The Judiciary has been tackled,” Mr Abubakar said. “If, at this time, we stand by as the press loses its independence, there will be little to differentiate us from a dictatorship.”
Mr Abubakar, who challenged President Muhammadu Buhari at the 2019 presidential election, warned that what the NBC did to AIT “should not happen.”
Like Mr Abubakar, many other Nigerians have condemned the action of the NBC.
“The suspension of @AIT_Online is an utterly condemnable act.The suspension is politically motivated.Its an act of ingratitude & treachery to strangulate the very media outlet that has played a pivotal role in the struggle for the restoration and defense of democracy,” a former Kaduna senator, Shehu Sani, wrote on Twitter, @ShehuSani.
The suspension of @AIT_Online is an utterly condemnable act.The suspension is politically motivated.Its an act of ingratitude & treachery to strangulate the very media outlet that has played a pivotal role in the struggle for the restoration and defense of democracy.
— Senator Shehu Sani (@ShehuSani) June 6, 2019
“When the people in Government and not the constitution are at liberty to chose which of the views expressed is offensive to the law,they will pick the ones that question their authority to oppress,” he added.
An aide to former President Goodluck Jonathan, Reno Omokri, described the closure of the stations as a sign of dictatorship.
The @MBuhari junta has shut down @AIT_Online. We are now officially a dictatorship. Opposition voices are stifled, and those who voted against Buhari are treated like enemies of the state and called 'necessary evil'. Welcome to #NextLevel #FreeLeahSharibu https://t.co/tJ22ZeLEE1
— Reno Omokri (@renoomokri) June 6, 2019
“The @MBuhari junta has shut down @AIT_Online. We are now officially a dictatorship. Opposition voices are stifled, and those who voted against Buhari are treated like enemies of the state and called ‘necessary evil’. Welcome to #NextLevel #FreeLeahSharibu,”
See the reactions of other Nigerians to NBC’s action below.
JUST IN: NBC suspends AIT, Raypower’s license https://t.co/h888kyxhIw
— Premium Times (@PremiumTimesng) June 6, 2019
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