PDP Reps to Buhari: Leave journalists alone, face pressing state matters

President Muhammadu Buhari

The Caucus of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the House of Representatives has expressed concerns about the reported censorship of Channels TV by the Nigerian Broadcasting Commission (NBC) over the station’s interview with Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State.

Mr Ortom recently appeared on “Sunrise Daily” a programme of the television station during which he was interviewed on the state of the nation.

The governor spoke on the general insecurity in the country and also accused President Muhammadu Buhari of habouring an agenda to ‘fulanise’ Nigeria.

The Presidency, however, cautioned Mr Ortom against making “divisive” statements.

The PDP Caucus in the House, in a statement by its leader, Kingsley Chinda, on Friday, said it is “monitoring widespread reports that members of Staff of Channels Television have been invited to the office of the (Directorate of State Services DSS) for interrogation in connection with their handling of the programme.

The PDP lawmakers said instead of the president to face other issues confronting the country, the Buhari administration had preoccupied itself with how to strangulate the media.

“We must first register our deep concern that whilst the nation drifts into a near Hobbesian state amidst the raging insecurity currently engulfing the nation, the daily carnage experienced across Benue and Plateau States and elsewhere in the country, kidnappings of innocent citizens including school children, to the unprecedented violent attack on the National Defence Academy- one of the most hallowed symbols of Nigeria’s `sovereignty, the government of President Muhammadu Buhari is preoccupied with hounding perceived enemies of the administration and stifling the press, acts which are antithetical to democratic ethos,” the statement said.

The caucus questioned the legality of the Broadcasting Code invoked by NBC against Channels Television.

It said: “Nigerians would recall that the legality of the Broadcasting Code, invoked by the NBC against Channels Television, is still a matter of contention before the Federal High Court, Abuja Division in Suit No.: FHC/SUIT NO: FHC/ABJ/CS/1136/2020 between Rep. Kingsley Chinda & 8 Ors (for themselves and on behalf of the PDP Caucus House of Reps) v. Minister of Information & 2 Ors.

“NBC is unrelenting in its brazen application of the Broadcasting Code for the purpose of stifling free speech and gagging the print and electronic media across the Country.

“This no doubt, is geared to protect the palpable inefficiencies of the present administration; intimidate dissenting voices and erode standard democratic ethos.”

The caucus asked Mr Buhari to release all journalists being held currently in the country.

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