Rights groups including Amnesty International and Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project as well as a former Minister of Education, Mrs. Oby Ezekwesili, have slammed the Federal Government for shutting down the Africa Independent Television and Raypower 100.5FM.
Daar Communications, owned by Peoples Democratic Party chieftain, Raymond Dokpesi, is the parent company of the radio and television stations.
The company had its broadcast licences suspended by the National Broadcasting Commission headed by Kawu Modibbo, a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress in Kwara State.
However, the move has been condemned by a large section of Nigerians.
Amnesty International described the shutdown as an attempt to stifle the free press.
It said in a tweet, “Amnesty International condemns the suspension of AIT and Raypower by Nigerian authorities. This heavy-handed clampdown is clearly a ploy to undermine independent media and freedom of the press.”
Similarly, SERAP called on President Muhammadu Buhari and Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo to intervene immediately.
SERAP posted on Twitter, “We have carefully reviewed the ‘grounds’ for suspending AIT and Raypower. We maintain that the indefinite suspension by NBC is arbitrary and blatantly illegal. The ban must be lifted immediately.
“The NBC must immediately reverse its arbitrary decision to suspend AIT, Raypower or face legal action. This is censorship. The move is a serious blow to freedom of expression and Nigerians’ right to information about critical developments in the country.”
In a similar development, former minister, Ezekwesili, described the ban as dictatorial.
She said, “There is nothing in that letter from NBC to AIT that reaches the threshold for withdrawal of license and shut down of a media house that we all know government perceives as an ‘opposition media’.
“Wisdom should have actually instructed the Federal Government against striking out at them.”
Ezekwesili said the fact that the Presidency was circulating the ban on AIT on its social media handles showed that there was a conspiracy against the media house.
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