SERAP Writes Buhari to Withdraw Threat Against BBC African Eye

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CEM REPORT | A letter has been sent to President Muhammadu Buhari urging him to urgently direct the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, to withdraw the threat to sanction Daily Trust and the BBC over their documentaries on banditry.

The letter sent by the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) dated July 30th, stated the Buhari-led administration should focus on delivering promises made to ensure the security of Nigerians, rather than punishing the media for promoting access to diverse opinions and information on issues of public importance.

“The media has the duty to impart information and ideas on issues of public importance. If carried out, the threat to sanction the BBC and Daily Trust would inhibit the media from reporting on issues of public interest.

“Media houses and journalists ought to be given the room to determine how best to present information of public interest, especially information about the growing violence and killings across the country.”

SERAP while urging the president to act within 48 hours of receiving the letter warned that it will employ all appropriate legal actions in the public interest if nothing is done.

The organisation also warned that carrying out the threat to sanction the BBC and Daily Trust would lessen the flow of diverse viewpoints and information to the public.

“A free, uncensored, and unhindered press or other media is essential in any society to ensure freedom of opinion and expression and the enjoyment of other rights. It constitutes one of the cornerstones of a democratic society.

“Sanctioning the BBC and Daily Trust would be entirely inconsistent and incompatible with Nigeria’s obligations under article 9 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

“The threat, if carried out would impermissibly restrict the constitutional and international rights to freedom of expression, access to information and victims’ right to justice and effective remedies that are central to public debate and accountability in a democratic society.”

Recall a CEM report here the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed had stated that the federal government would sanction the two media organisations for airing documentaries that allegedly glorified, promoted and fuelled terrorism and banditry in Nigeria.

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