The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has issued a 24-hour ultimatum to President Muhammadu Buhari to withdraw a directive by the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) banning journalists from giving details on terrorist attacks and victims in the country.
In a Twitter thread on Sunday morning, SERAP revealed that it had sent a letter to the President, demanding the withdrawal of the directive which is capable of derailing the work of journalists and media houses who are meant to hold politicians to account.
BREAKING: We’ve given the Buhari administration 24 hours to withdraw the NBC directive banning journalists and broadcast stations from reporting details on terrorist attacks and victims in Nigeria.
The directive would limit free expression, public debate and accountability.
— SERAP (@SERAPNigeria) July 18, 2021
“Reporting on terrorist attacks and victims is a matter of public interest. The NBC directive, coupled with the possibility of punishment, would have a disproportionate chilling effect on the work of those seeking to hold the government accountable to the public,” SERAP said.
“The broad definitions of what may constitute ‘too many details’, ‘glamourising’, and ‘divisive rhetoric’, heighten concerns of overreach, confer far-reaching discretion, and suggest that the directive is more intrusive than necessary.”
In a letter dated July 7, NBC had asked radio and telivision stations not to “give details of security issues or victims of these security challenges” in their reporting.
“Headlines of most Newspapers on a daily basis are replete with security topics. While bringing information on security to the doorsteps of Nigerians is a necessity, there is a need for caution as too many details may have an adverse implication on the efforts of our security officials who are duty-bound to deal with the insurgency.”