The National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) has suspended a popular current affairs programme of Vision FM, Idon Mikiya, for six months for discussing the controversial extension of the appointment of the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) Director-General, Rufai Abubakar and his incompetence
The station was also fined N5million.
This was contained in a letter signed by the NBC Director-General, Balarabe Shehu Ilelah, addressed to the Managing Director of Vision Media Service Limited.
The letter said the suspension took effect from January 28.
The suspension, according to the letter, was after the NBC monitored the broadcast of Idon Mikiya programme on January 5 on both Vision FM and Farin Wata TV.
“Your discussion on issue, including appointments at the National Intelligence Agency (NIA), constitutes a breach of the provision of section 39(3)(b) of the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, which imposes restrictions on matters concerning government security services or agencies established by law.
“Transmitting the trade secrets or other issues regarding a national security agency amounts to an act prejudicial to national security contrary to the above section cited.
“Recall that the commission has invited the management of Vision FM severally bothering on issues of balance, fairness and presenter bearing opinion, which are violations of the following Sections of the Nigeria Broadcasting Code” the letter read.
When contacted, the Managing Director, Vision Media Services, Shuaibu Mungadi, confirmed receiving the letter, saying the company had complied with the suspension order.
He, however, said the station committed no infraction.
“If you read the section in question, you’ll see that we’ve not violated any law. It was actually the NBC that violated the law, not Vision Media Services. So, there was no infraction anywhere,” he said.
On the N5million fine, Mungadi said, “I’m not sure we’ll meet the fine itself because Idon Mikiya is the programme that attracts clients that place advertisements, so much money is placed on that programme.
“So, if you suspend it, that means you already suspended our means of income. It’s the mainstay of our company and if suspended, it also negates the federal government’s claim that it’s trying to provide jobs because we have 7 radio stations with one TV station.
“If you close down these stations due this fine, definitely, hundreds of people will lose jobs, and I’m not sure we have the money for now.”
In August 2021, Balarabe Ilelah, Director-General of NBC vowed that the Muhammadu Buhari-led government would be guiding journalists and media houses on what to report and any outlets caught flouting the broadcasting codes would be summoned to explain themselves.
“NBC is not here to suppress press freedom but to guide the press,” Ilelah said.
“Our duty is to make sure that everybody is given a fair playing ground so that you can say whatever you want to say that is according to the law.”