The hammer of the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) came heavy on the Broadcasting Service of Ekiti State (BSES) on Saturday, July 14, 2018, when the regulatory organization ordered its immediate closure.
The Service, comprising of radio and television stations, was closed for breaching some provisions of the Broadcasting Code.
The regulatory body was particularly irked by the unauthorized declaration of poll results by the state governor, Mr. Ayodele Fayose, on the state-owned radio and television stations while the collation of results was going on.
The Commission had said it took the decision to curb the continued breach of the Electoral Act and the Broadcasting Code on Political Broadcast. The stations do not have a General Manager but being supervised by the Special Assistant to the Governor on Public Communication and New Media, Mr. Lere Olayinka.
NBC spokesperson, Hajiya Maimuna Jimada said the Commission took the decision after unauthorized declaration of the governorship election results by Governor Fayose on the Broadcast stations.
“In addition, the Governor went on air to make malicious and unsubstantiated claims against the Independent National Electoral Commission, the Nigerian Police and the Department of Security Services. The station will remain shut down till further notice,” she said.
The Commission had on Tuesday June 5, queried Mr. Olayinka who is doubling as the spokesman for the PDP campaign organisation in breach of Section 5.2.18 of the Nigeria Broadcasting Code in letters to the station and the state government. Both letters were ignored by the recipients.
The organization was on Wednesday July 11, 2018 again found in breach of sections 5.2.7 and 5.2.8 of the Code for which it was reprimanded and fined N500,000 by the Commission, according to Jimada.
The NBC Director-General, Mallam Is’haq Modibbo Kawu said that all broadcasters must adhere strictly to the ethics of the profession in conducting all programmes in respect to the Nigeria Broadcasting Code, the National Broadcasting Act CAP N11 Laws of the Federation, 2004 and the Electoral Act.
Kawu drew the attention of all broadcasters to the following sections of the Nigeria Broadcasting Code: 3.1.2 which states that: Materials likely to incite or encourage to the commission of a crime or lead to public disorder shall not be broadcast, 5.2.15 which states that: A broadcaster shall broadcast election results or declaration of the winner only as announced by the authorized electoral officer for the election.
However, the Ekiti State Council of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) has pleaded with the NBC to temper justice with mercy over the closure.
Expressing its sadness over the conduct of “the unprofessional attitude of the station,” the NUJ said it was making the plea “in respect of our colleagues whose means of livelihood is being threatened.”
It added “It’s a known fact that the fragrant disobedience to broadcast law by the station is a consequence of ownership factor in the media industry which had made journalists helpless by operating to the tune and dictate of the owner of the organisation where they work.”
The chairman and secretary of the Council, Rotimi Ojomoyela and Kayode Babatuyi respectively, said “until this factor is addressed, journalists will still continue to experience difficulties in ensuring total compliance to broadcasting codes.”
Responding to the development, the Conference of Nigeria Political Parties (CNPP) in the state hailed the closure saying the action saved the state from an unprecedented crisis.
In the statement signed by its Director of Publicity and Strategy, Olu Akomolafe, the CNPP praised the NBC for saving Ekiti from being thrown into chaos and anarchy.
Similarly, Lagos-based lawyer and human rights activist, Mr Femi Falana, (SAN), said the state would have been plunged into a deep crisis after the election if the National Broadcasting Corporation had not shut the Ekiti State Broadcasting Corporation on the Election Day.
He said, “The NBC deserves commendation for closing down the Ekiti State television and radio stations where false results were announced by Governor Ayo Fayose. But for the closure, the state would have been engulfed in the violence of unimaginable proportion.”