The opposition Peoples Democratic Party has commended the judiciary “for upholding justice and the tenets of democracy, particularly the right of fair hearing, by ordering the immediate reopening of African Independent Television and Raypower radio”.
The party gave the commendation in a statement issued by its National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Kola Ologbondiyan, on Saturday, June 8, 2019, in Abuja.
The National Broadcasting Commission, it would be recalled, had on Thursday announced the suspension of the licences of the Africa Independent Television, Ray Power FM and Faaji FM belonging to the Daar Communications Plc.
The NBC Director-General, Dr. Modibbo Kawu, who announced the suspension at a conference in Abuja, said that the suspension was until further notice.
The offences listed by the NBC included the airing of a Presidential election documentary by the AIT, a matter pending before a tribunal, the inability of the company to pay its fees, the use of “divisive and inciting contents from the social media” among others.
Ologbondiyan, however, said that by the reopening order issued by the court, which spurred spontaneous jubilation by Nigerians across the country, the judiciary had again “restored hope in our democracy and the rule of law”. He added that the judiciary had also demonstrated that “it is indeed the last hope of the common man in the face of an oppressive system”.
Ologbondiyan condemned what he described as assault on
media houses and journalists. He described it as a calculated plot to cow and emasculate the press, asphyxiate free speech and suffocate public opinion.
He said: “Our party holds that media intimidation, as a feature of military regime, must not be allowed in a democratic order, adding that there is no way democracy, with its principles and values can thrive without a free press.”
He urged the judiciary to continue to uphold the sanctity of justice in protecting democratic order and rights of citizens under Nigeria laws despite the intimidation and harassment. Ologbondiyan also cautioned the security agencies not to allow themselves to be used by desperate power mongers against law-abiding citizens, but to ensure that their actions were backed by the dictates of the law.
He also urged the security agencies to be guided by the ruling of the court which states that the status quo, as at May 30, be maintained.
He said: “As at May 30, there were no security occupation on the premises of Daar Communication, breathing down on journalists and other workers going about their daily activities.
“The party also call on the media, as the fourth estate of the realm, not to be cowed but continue to discharge their constitutional duties in national development, in line with its professional ethics and best.