Yesterday, Daar Communications Plc, the owners of Africa Independent Television (AIT) and Ray Power was suspended by the Nigerian Broadcasting Commission (NBC) till further notice. This did not go down well with many Nigerians as they took to social media to pour out their grievances.
One of the people that reacted to the closure of AIT and Ray Power FM is Presidential candidate of the People’s Democratic Party in the 2019 Nigerian general election, Atiku Abubakar .
Atiku Abubakar took to his Twitter page and wrote;
I am a lifelong democrat and throughout my political life, I have championed the principles of Separation of Powers. The Legislature has been challenged. The Judiciary has been tackled.
If, at this time, we stand by as the Press loses its independence, there will be little to differentiate us from a dictatorship. This should not happen. -AA
PDP also released an official statement to condemn the act, claiming it is an attempt to gag the media. See statement below;
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) condemns, in its totality, the unrelenting attempt by the All Progressives Congress (APC)-controlled federal government to cage the media as being witnessed in the ferocious attacks on Africa Independent Television (AIT) by government agencies, particularly the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC).
The party says it is evident that the attack on AIT is targeted at intimidating and gaging the media, repress constitutionally guaranteed freedom of speech and stifle public opinion, particularly as related to the determination by Nigerians to retrieve the stolen Presidential mandate at the tribunal.
This clamp down on AIT as well as earlier siege on other media houses and journalists under the APC administration, ostensibly point to a plot to frighten and asphyxiate the media, shut down outlets perceived to hold dissenting views and ultimately foist a siege mentality on our citizenry to restrain their demand for fairness and justice in the polity.
The APC is mortally afraid that a free press will raise the red flag and expose its manipulations and any attempt to subvert the course of justice, especially in the Presidential petition, hence this desperation to strangulate the media and cow Nigerians from freely expressing themselves.
Moreover, the PDP invites Nigerians to note that the Director-General of the NBC, Ishaq Modibbo Kawu, is a card carrying member and frontline leader in the APC who was also an aspirant on the platform of the party for the governorship of Kwara state.
The PDP notes that there can be no democracy without a free press. To stifle the media is an invitation to fascism and a return to the era of obnoxious military Decrees 2 and 4, which must be resisted by all.
Our party therefore calls on Nigerians and the International community to unite in condemning this desperation to gag the media and repress free speech in Nigeria.
The PDP also charges the media to remain professional and steadfast in their constitutional role of holding government and its institutions accountable and not be intimidated by oppressive forces that seek to subjugate Nigerians.
Also reacting to the news, Reno Omokri wrote;
This act of aggression against @AIT_Online is only possible because men of God, Like Pastor Kumuyi, refuse to speak and instead ask those who will speak not to “attack” a government that attacks our liberty. That is how they kept quiet under Abacha #ReturnToDictatorshipInNigeria
First they came for the Legislature (@BukolaSaraki), we did nothing.
Next they came for the Judiciary (CJN Walter Onnoghen), we said nothing.
Now, they have come for the Press (@AIT_Online). Will you still do NOTHING?
Please RETWEET to reject #ReturnToDictatorshipInNigeria
The @MBuhari junta has shut down @AIT_Online. We are now officially a dictatorship. Opposition voices are stifled, and those who voted against Buhari are treated like enemies of the state and called ‘necessary evil’. Welcome to #NextLevel #FreeLeahSharibu