Both media houses, owned by Raymond Dokpesi's Daar Communications, have been shut down until further notice.
The announcement was made on Thursday, June 6, 2019, while addressing journalists in Abuja.
Why NBC suspended AIT and Raypower indefinitely
According to the commission, they have suspended for several reasons.
Punch reports that the long list of offences include;
- airing of a Presidential election documentary by the AIT,
- a matter pending before a tribunal,
- the company's inability to pay its fees,
- the use of "divisive and inciting contents from the social media."
The NBC DG shed light on the shut down during the press briefing saying, "The NBC, today June 6, 2019 took a decision to suspend the licence of Daar Communications Plc for failure to abide by the commission's directives, the provisions of the NBC Act Cap N11 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria and the Nigeria Broadcasting Code."
Kawu explained that the commission has had issues with the management of the company over the last two years adding that the communication firm has turned itself into a bad example for other professional broadcast stations.
In his words, ""This decision is based on the provisions of Section 10 of the Third Schedule of the NBC Act Cap N11 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004, which states that where in the opinion of the commission the station has been used in a manner detrimental to national interest. In their relationship with the NBC, Daar communications carry on as if it is beyond the regulatory direction of the commission. They don't pay their licence fees as and when due and its broadcast is patently partisan and one-sided and deliberately inciting and heating up the polity. The management of the Company has created the habit of using the channel to fight its personal battles contrary to the statutory requirements of the law."
The D-G shared more reasons for suspending AIT and Raypower saying, "Recently, NBC monitoring reports on AIT and Raypower indicate the use of divisive comments accredited to the segment of Kakaaki, tagged, 'Kakaaki Social' where inciting comments like, 'Nigeria is cursed,' 'we declare independent state of Niger Delta', 'Nigeria irritates me', 'this country is gradually Islamising' and other similar slogans are used without editorial control in breach of the broadcast Code. Consequently, after several meetings with the management of Daar Communications Plc and many letters of warning."
He continued saying, "NBC Act also states that where there is willful or repeated failure to operate substantially as set forth in the licence. Where there is willful or repeated violation or willful or repeated failure to observe any provision of this Act or any rule or regulation of the Commission authorised by this Act or by a treaty ratified by the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
"Where there is violation of or failure to observe any cease and desist order issued by the Commission and where a provision of the Nigeria Broadcasting Code has been seriously breached. And the shutdown order is until further notice."
NUJ reacts to the shutdown
The Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) has reacted by urging the NBC to reopen the stations within 24-hours.
The statement signed by the President of NUJ, Chris Isiguzo and union’s National Secretary, Shuaibu Usman Leman, described the commission's actions as unacceptable adding that the “action portends grave danger for Free Press and Independent Media.”
It read, “The Nigeria Union of Journalists is alarmed at the closure of AIT by the National Broadcasting Commission and believes that the action portends grave danger for Free Press and Independent Media. Independent and Pluralistic Media in a democracy like Nigeria serve to promote democracy by their dissemination of authentic information and ensuring transparency in governance.
“We condemn this closure over allegations of breach of 2004 Broadcasting Code and insist there are better ways of sanctioning media organisations that are found to have erred. It will be helpful if the NBC will immediately reopen AIT to ensure that they continue to promote debate and opinions on issues that are of societal, economic and political importance to the nation.
“We expect them to do the needful in 24-hours,” the statement concluded.