The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has faulted the imposition of excessive fines by the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) on some media houses.
The NHRC also questioned the rationale by some federal lawmakers in sponsoring bills seeking to gag the media and the civic space.
These positions of the commission were made known by Tony Ojukwu, the NHRC Executive Secretary, in a statement on Monday to mark the World Press Freedom Day, which is observed globally on May 3.
According to the statement signed by Fatimah Mohammed, the NHRC’s Deputy Director, Public Affairs, Ojukwu said that the civic space for robust and responsible media conversation needs to be widened rather than shrunk.
“We stand with the civil society to condemn the attempts of some parliamentarians to pass bills restricting social media and civic space.
“We also stand with civil society to condemn attempts by NBC to impose excessive fines on media houses for activities based on information to the citizens,” the statement quoted Ojukwu as saying.
Ojukwu noted that the media exist for the public good and by extension a catalyst for openness and good governance, adding that majority of journalists have lived up to their professional duties to unearth wrongdoings in the society, no matter whose ox is gored, even at the risk of their lives and that of their family members.
He stated that the theme for this year’s celebration, ‘Information for Public Good’, is apt because it reminds the government and the people of the importance of information in national development.
“It is therefore instructive that the media which has remained an agent of socialisation would rightly be deployed to drive government policies and programmes to the grassroot level,” Ojukwu said.
The NHRC boss called for the revisiting of the National Broadcasting Corporation’s legislations and policies to avoid infringement of human rights.
He also urged the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ) to adopt modalities to eliminate quacks in the profession, saying the presence of quacks perpetrating fake news, hate speech, and other unethical conduct is capable of causing national disunity.