Barely a week after the Federal Government threatened to sanction some media organisations over allegations of ‘airing respective documentaries glorifying and fueling terrorism, banditry in Nigeria,’ the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) has now imposed a fine of N5 million on Trust Television Network (Trust TV).
NBC said the fine was for the broadcast of the documentary titled; “Nigeria’s Banditry: The Inside Story,” which was broadcast by the station on March 5, 2022.
The NBC, in a letter to our company dated August 3, 2022, which was signed by its Director General, Balarabe Shehu Illela, said the fine was imposed on Trust TV ‘because its broadcast of the said documentary contravened sections of the National Broadcasting Code.’
“While we are currently studying the Commission’s action and weighing our options, we wish to state unequivocally that as a television station, we believe we were acting in the public interest by shedding light on the thorny issue of banditry and how it is affecting millions of citizens of our country,” the letter read in part.
The said documentary traces the root of the communal tensions and systemic inadequacies which led to the armed conflict that is setting the stage for another grand humanitarian crisis in Nigeria. It presents insights into the intersection of injustice, ethnicity and bad governance as drivers of the conflict. It also aggregates voices of experts and key actors towards finding solutions, including those of the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, Senator Saidu Mohammed Dansadau, who hails from one the worst hit communities in Zamfara State.
Other experts who featured in the documentary include scholars like; Professor Abubakar Saddique of the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria and Dr. Murtala Ahmed Rufai of the Usmanu Danfodio University, Sokoto, who have both studied the subject of banditry for a long period.
The documentary also brought to the fore the horrifying stories of victims of banditry.
It would be recalled that, last Thursday, the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, Thursday, said the Federal Government will sanction the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) and Trust TV ‘for airing respective documentaries glorifying and fueling terrorism, banditry in Nigeria.’
Mohammed, who disclosed this in an interview with newsmen, in Abuja, 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.
While, condemning the BBC for ‘not upholding the same standards and tenets as they would have done in the United Kingdom,’ the minister also condemned Trust Tv, owned by Media Trust Ltd. for using its platform to grant interview to a bandit kingpin, Shehu Rekeb, thereby promoting activities of terrorists.
According to him, both platforms by their actions ‘have become accomplices to terrorists and bandits in the name of reporting.’
The minister said the appropriate regulatory body was already looking at the infractions and appropriate sanctions would be meted to both platforms.
“There is a regulatory body regulating broadcasting which is the Nigeria Broadcasting Commission (NBC) and they are also aware of these two incidents.
“They are looking at which part of the Broadcasting Code that has been violated by the BBC and Trust TV.
“Media is the oxygen that terrorists and bandits use to breathe.
“When otherwise reputable platforms like BBC can give their platform to terrorists showing their faces as if they are Nollywood stars, it is unfortunate.
“I want to assure them that they will not get away with it, appropriate sanctions will be meted to both the BBC and the Trust Tv,’’ he said.
The minister said that the fact that the BBC is a foreign medium and not under NBC regulations, notwithstanding, sanctions will be meted to the medium.
“Let me assure you that they will not get away with the naked glorification of terrorism and banditry in Nigeria.
“If they are not registered in Nigeria and they are only sending their signals to Nigeria, we will ask them to stop sending the signals.
“I know that during the IRA days, the BBC will not dare do what they are doing now in Nigeria.
“It is because there is a country called Nigeria that they are operating here,” he said.
According to Mohammed, ‘the government would not tolerate any attempt by any media organisation to use its platform to set the country on fire.’