DAAR Communications chairman, Raymond Dokpesi, Thursday accused President Muhammadu Buhari of using the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) to stifle press freedom in the country.
“I believe very strongly that under the leadership of the current Director General of the NBC (Is’haq Kawu), press freedom has been greatly eroded,” Dokpesi said in Abuja.
“Any criticism of this government is hate speech. The NBC is acting under the authority of the President and Commander-in-Chief.”
NBC in May sent two separate letters to Daar Communications Group, owners of African Independent Television (AIT) and Raypower FM over programme contents it considered unprofessional.
The letters signed by the commission’s broadcast monitoring director Armstrong Idachaba accused the stations of airing “offensive, unfair and unprofessional” content in violation of broadcasting rules in Nigeria.
Dokpesi, however, questioned the NBC and the presidency on what it terms hate speech and violation of ethics of professional broadcasting.
“I have it on strict authority and very assured information that the highest echelons of government, the Presidency, queried and challenged the NBC that they were not doing their jobs: ‘How on earth could they be hearing and seeing on AIT what they termed hate speech?,” Dokpesi said.
“If this was not protected by the President at the top, is it possible that his body language is being interpreted?”
Dokpesi, who pioneered ownership of private media houses in Nigeria, also lamented the imposition of N500m in licensing fees to private broadcasting organisations while government-owned broadcasters paid N10m.
He complained that licensing fees in Nigeria is one of the highest in the world. Dokpesi said, “there is no country in the world where you have this type of exploitative fees.”
Dokpesi said the government have been inconsiderate of private media organisations in the country despite the harsh economy.
He also claimed that the “government has called this organisation unprintable names which has deterred several advertisers from patronising AIT.”