A political activist and former Deputy National Publicity Secretary of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Comrade Timi Frank, on Friday, condemned the suspension of the broadcast licence of Daar Communications – owners of the African Independent Television (AIT) and Raypower FM – by the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC).
Frank, in a statement in Abuja, described the use of armed soldiers to seal the offices of the organization located in Pasuma Hills, Asokoro as the height of impunity, tyranny and molestation against the Nigerian media which was the pastime of past military juntas in the country.
He stated that the action of the NBC’s boss, Mallam Is’haq Modibbo Kawu, was not only targeted at killing AIT and Raypower, but to run the founder and Chairman Emeritus of DAAR Communications Plc, Chief Raymond Dokpesi – a chieftain of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) – aground economically.
He said: “This represents an unfortunate and lamentable oppression of the media and direct suppression of Press Freedom in the country by the President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration which must not be allowed to stand.
“Freedom of the press remains one of the indispensable indices of any genuine democratic governance. Those who trample on press freedom have invariably trampled on democracy and the inalienable rights and freedom of the people.”
He stated that, having performed woefully in office in the last four years, the Buhari’s administration had increasingly turned predatory, exploitative, vindictive and rapacious against its citizens, out of frustration.
“The ongoing pacification, intimidation and emasculation of the Nigerian Media is to confer totalitarian powers on the Buhari’s administration and enable it to ride roughshod over Nigerians without censor or criticism,” he lamented.
Frank wondered why a government that had not been able to solve five percent of the humongous unemployed situation in the country would embark on acts that can directly kill a business concern and render all its employees jobless.
“This unfortunate action, I dare say, marks the beginning of the #NextLevel policy of intimidation and persecution of the Nigerian media by the Buhari’s administration.
“Make no mistakes, this closure is meant to serve as a lesson to other media houses and forcefully stop them from exposing Buhari’s ineptness and cluelessness in governance to members of the public,” he stated.
He warned the media to brace up for more ferocious attacks by the present administration, saying that any media organszation that considers the ongoing efforts to kill AIT and Raypower FM as an isolated incident should have a rethink.
“In January this year, armed soldiers invaded and occupied the offices of Media Trust Limited – Publishers of the Daily Trust Newspapers – in Maiduguri and Abuja, seized their laptops, computers, arrested and detained its top reporters and editors.
“We must not also forget the illegal detention of a Premium Times journalist, Samuel Ogundipe, for three days for publishing a story from a report on the invasion of the Senate authored by the immediate past IGP, Ibrahim Idris, to the President.”
He also recalled how the Department of State Services (DSS) arrested and illegally detained Jones Abiri – publisher of Weekly Source newspaper, based in Bayelsa State for over two years without trial.
Frank therefore, urged Nigerians to resist a “deliberate and systematic ploy to gag and tame the Nigerian Press by Buhari.”