A Federal High Court in Abuja has ordered Daar Communications Plc’s AIT/Raypower stations and National Broadcasting Commission to maintain status quo pending a hearing slated for June 13, 2019.
Justice Inyang Ekwo ordered Ray Power and AIT to return to operation pending when NBC will defend its reasons for suspending the broadcasting company.
The National Broadcasting Commission, NBC, had, Thursday, suspended the operating license of the Daar Communications PLC, operator of AIT and Ray Power over alleged breach of the NBC’s broadcasting code.
NBC claimed the management of Daar Communications Plc’s AIT/Raypower stations had been warned several times about breaches of broadcasting regulations but did not flinch.
“The NBC have over the last 2 years summoned on several occasions management of the company to address issues regarding the operations of AIT/Raypower with the company, particularly, Political Platform and Kakaaki aired on AIT,” NBC said in a statement.
The commission said its recent monitoring reports on AIT/Raypower indicate the “use of divisive comments accredited to the segment of “Kakaaki”, tagged, “Kakaaki Social”, where inciting comments like, “Nigeria is cursed, we declare independent state of Niger Delta”, “Nigeria irritates me”, “this country is gradually Islamizing” and other similar slogans are used without editorial control in breach of the broadcast Code.”
“We were, therefore, constrained to issue Daar Communication letters of warning dated May 27th, 2019,” NBC said.
Before the suspension, Daar Communications, in an ex parte application asked the court to restrain NBC from withdrawing its operating license over alleged breach of the broadcast code.
They asked the court for an order to maintain status quo ante bellum as at May 30, 2019, pending the hearing and final determination of the motion on notice filed along with this application.
The grounds for bringing this application according to DAAR communication is that in the best tenets and tradition of broadcast and in compliance with section 22 of 1999 constitution it had carried out its duties legally, legitimately, morally and nationalistically, in informing, educating and entertaining
But the NBC, which regulates radio and television stations, said AIT/Rapower again on Thursday used “inflammatory, divisive, inciting broadcasts, and media propaganda against the government and, the NBC”, hence the suspension.
The AIT and Ray Power FM, both owned by Raymond Dokpesi’s has strongly denied all allegations of wrongdoing, saying the Buhari administration was out to victimise them over of their perceived allegiance to the opposition.
Dokpesi has been a long-time member of the opposition People’s Democratic Party (PDP), and once contested to be the party’s chairman.
The suspension has generated widespread criticism in the country.
PDP’s Atiku Abubakar condemned the closure of AIT, warning that the fabrics of Nigeria’s democracy were being shredded by the Buhari government.
“The Legislature has been challenged. The Judiciary has been tackled,” Abubakar tweeted.
“If, at this time, we stand by as the press loses its independence, there will be little to differentiate us from a dictatorship,” he added.