The Socio-economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has urged the Muhammadu Buhari-led administration to restrain the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) from threatening Nigerians with punishment if they “insult President, governors, senators other leaders.”
This is coming after the N5million (Five Million Naira) fine imposed on Nigeria Info 99.3 FM by the NBC, over a recent comment made by Obadiah Mailafia, a former Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), regarding insecurity.
Mailafia had said, “Some of us also have our intelligence networks. I have met with some of the bandits; we have met with some of their high commanders – one or two who have repented – they have sat down with us not once, not twice.”
SERAP in a tweet, on Thursday said that speaking against leaders is a constitutional right and as such, hinted about dragging the NBC to court if it keeps suppressing opposing views.
The commission said, “We urge President Buhari to caution the National Broadcasting Commission to refrain from threatening Nigerians with punishment if they insult President, governors, senators other leaders. We’ll see in court if the NBC continues to undermine Nigerians’ human rights.”
SERAP called on the Federal Government to repeal all laws punishing Nigerians simply for exercising their human rights, and to ensure full respect for the human rights of everyone.
“Nigerian authorities should stop using “insult” as a pretext to stifle freedom of expression, and as a tool of repression. The ‘crime’ of insult is entirely inconsistent and incompatible with the Nigerian Constitution, 1999 (as amended), and international human rights law.
“Public figures including those exercising the highest political authority like President and Governors, may be subject to criticism and the fact that some forms of expression are considered to be insulting to a public figure is not sufficient to justify restrictions or penalties.
“We’re again calling on President Buhari to immediately repeal all laws punishing Nigerians simply for exercising their human rights, and to ensure full respect for the human rights of everyone,” the tweet read.