President Muhammadu Buhari has been urged to “urgently instruct Mr. Lai Mohammed, Minister of Information and Culture to withdraw the threat to sanction the BBC and Daily Trust over their documentaries on terrorism in the country, whether through the Nigeria Broadcasting Commission (NBC) or any other agency of government,” according to the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP).
According to reports, Mr Mohammed had last Thursday stated that the Federal Government would sanction the BBC and Trust Tv for airing documentaries that allegedly “glorify”, “promote”, and “fuel” terrorism and banditry in Nigeria.
In a letter dated 30 July, 2022 and signed by SERAP deputy director Kolawole Oluwadare, the organization said, “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.”
According to SERAP, “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.”
The organization said, “Rather than punishing the media for promoting access to diverse opinions and information on issues of public importance, your government should focus on delivering your promises to ensure the security of Nigerians.”
The organization also said, “Carrying out the threat to sanction the BBC and Daily Trust would lessen the flow of diverse viewpoints and information to the public.”
The letter, read in part: “We would be grateful if the requested action is taken within 48 hours of the receipt and/or publication of this letter. If we have not heard from you by then, SERAP shall take all appropriate legal actions in the public interest.”
“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.”
“Access to information is essential for the enjoyment of other human rights and freedoms and constitutes a fundamental pillar for building a democratic society and strengthening democracy.”
“Allowing the media to freely carry out their duties is essential to building secure society and leaving no one behind. Conversely, imposing impermissible restrictions on media houses, journalists and other Nigerians undermines the security that builds a healthy and vibrant society.”
“The grounds for sanctioning the BBC and Daily Trust as stated by Mr Mohammed fail to meet the requirements of legality, necessity, and proportionality.”
“The requirement of necessity also implies an assessment of the proportionality of the grounds, with the aim of ensuring that the excuse of ‘glorifying, promoting, and fuelling terrorism and banditry’ are not used as a pretext to unduly intrude upon the rights to freedom of expression and access to information.”
“Any interference with the constitutional and legal duties of the BBC and Daily Trust would not be justified in the context of the right to information.”
“The Federal Government has not shown that the documentaries by the media houses would impose a specific risk of harm to a legitimate State interest that outweighs the public’s interest in the information provided by the documentaries.”
“The documentaries by the BBC and Daily pose no risk to any definite interest in national security or public order.”
“It is inconsistent and compatible with the Nigerian Constitution 1999 [as amended] to invoke the grounds of ‘glorifying, promoting, and fuelling terrorism and banditry’ as justifications for suppressing freedom of expression or withholding from the public information of legitimate public interest that does not harm national security.”
“It is contrary to both the Nigerian Constitution and international standards to threaten or punish journalists and media houses such as the BBC and Daily Trust for disseminating such information.”
“The vague and overbroad definitions of ‘glorifying’, ‘promoting’, and ‘fuelling’ raise concerns that the threat by the Federal Government if carried out would unduly interfere with the rights to access to information, and disproportionate to any purported legitimate governmental aim. Ill-defined and/or overly broad grounds are open to arbitrary application and abuse.”
“The broad definitions of what may constitute ‘glorifying’, ‘promoting’, and ‘fuelling’ also heighten concerns of overreach, confer far-reaching discretion on the government, and suggest that the grounds cited by the Federal Government are more intrusive than necessary.”
“These words do not indicate precisely what kind of individual conduct would fall within their ambit.”
These words do not indicate precisely what kind of individual conduct would fall within their ambit.”
“The use of these words by the Federal Government, given their opaque and ambiguous meaning, leaves open the possibility for application beyond unequivocal incitement to hatred, hostility, or violence. Such words may function to interpret legitimate reporting by media houses, journalists, and other Nigerians as unlawful.”
“The grounds cited by the Federal Government for sanctioning the BBC and Daily Trust also fail to establish a direct and immediate connection between the reporting by the media houses and any risks to national security and peace.”
“The threat if carried out would also create an environment that unduly deters and penalizes media houses and journalists, and the reporting of government wrongdoing more generally.”
“The cumulative effect of any attempt to sanction the BBC and Daily Trust would be the gagging of the media from reporting on cases of violence and killings by terrorists and kidnappers, the reporting and information that is clearly in the public interest.”
“SERAP recalls that in your 2022 new year message, you raised concerns about persistent insecurity in certain parts of the country and promised to remain ‘resolute in giving utmost attention to the problem.’”
“While your government has the obligation to maintain national security, this obligation is not set apart from the obligation to protect and ensure human rights. National security is a necessary and integral part of the right to security guaranteed to each person individually.”
Mauritania Ex-president, Aziz, Sentenced To Five Years For Corruption
A court in Mauritania’s capital Nouakchott on Monday sentenced former president, Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz, to five years in prison for having abused his position to amass an ill-gotten fortune.
Aziz, who ruled the pivotal country between North Africa and sub-Saharan Africa between 2008 and 2019, fell into disgrace under successor and current President Mohamed Ould Ghazouani, a former political ally.
The former president had been on trial since January alongside 10 other prominent figures — including two former prime ministers — for illicit enrichment, abuse of functions, influence-peddling and laundering.
He was convicted of illicit enrichment and laundering but cleared of the other charges.
The court also ordered the confiscation of Aziz’s illicitly acquired assets.
The 66-year-old former head of state did not react to the judgement.
Aziz has been in detention since January 24, having also spent several months in prison in 2021.
He received the longest sentence of all the defendants in the trial, with two former prime ministers and two former ministers cleared of the charges.
“The trial we attended was a political trial, and its verdict is also very political,” one of Aziz’s lawyers, Mohameden Ould Icheddou, said.
Another of his lawyers announced their intention to appeal against the verdict.
But a state lawyer, Brahim Ould Ebetti, told AFP that the verdict was “very lenient”.
Prosecutions of former heads of state are rare in the world, but especially so in Africa. Most former leaders brought to national or international courts are tried for blood crimes rather than corruption.
Mauritania ranked 130th out of 180 in the 2022 Corruption Perceptions Index by the organisation Transparency International.
EFCC warns skit makers, others against illegal use of its identities
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has condemned the unauthorised use of its operational identities, warning skit makers and other social workers to desist from the act.
The commission’s Head of Media and Publicity, Dele Oyewale, made this known in a statement on Wednesday.
According to the statement, a video titled “EFCC and Army Wahala” gaining traction on social media compelled the EFCC to reiterate its warning to skit makers and others to desist from using the operational identities of the commission illegally and irresponsibly.
The statement read, “‘EFCC and Army Wahala’ is a caricature of the operational etiquette of the EFCC. The shameful characterisation of supposed operatives of the commission in the video unleashing terror on ‘suspects’, is not only embarrassing but indicative of deliberate attempt to cast shadows on the image of the EFCC.
“Operatives of the EFCC are not bullies. They are trained as refined modern law enforcement officers rich in decency, civility and respect for members of the public, including suspects of economic and financial crimes.”
Oyewale noted that the commission will not hesitate to bring to book anyone caught displaying its operational identities for any engagement.
Credit: X| officialEFCC
NDLEA Arrests Physically Challenged Drug Peddler, Recovers 33 Tons Of Illicit Drugs
Operatives of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency have arrested a 45-year-old drug dealer, Godwin Emuneyin, who is physically challenged and uses a wheelchair as cover to deal in illicit substances such as methamphetamine and skunk in Afuze, headquarters of Owan East local government area of Edo state.
This was made known in a statement signed by the Director of Media and Advocacy, Femi Babafemi, shared on the agency’s Facebook page on Sunday.
The statement in part said, “”The suspect was arrested on Tuesday, November 7, at his base in Afuze following credible intelligence.
“As at the time of his arrest, a wooden box used to conceal illicit substances, including 18 pinches of methamphetamine, one block, and 71 wraps of skunk, was recovered from him.
“In other interdiction operations in Edo state, NDLEA operatives, on Monday, November 6, recovered 42 bags of skunk weighing 480kgs from a camp in Aviosi forest in Owan West LGA, while the Utese forest in Ovia North East LGA was also raided same day with 231.5kgs of the substance recovered and a cannabis farm measuring 0.778960 hectare destroyed.
“In Adamawa state, operatives on patrol along Ngurore-Yola road on Thursday, November 9, intercepted a Toyota Corolla car marked TZG 97 KY loaded with 30, 899 Tramadol 225mg and 100mg pills concealed inside the body compartments of the vehicle. The driver found in possession of the drug exhibits, Sani Samaila (a.k.a Isa Male),25, said he was bringing the consignment from Jalingo, Taraba State, to deliver in Yola, Adamawa State.
“The previous day, Wednesday November 8, a suspect, Abdullahi Sani (a.k.a Danfulani), was arrested at Ngurore town in possession of some quantity of dried weeds suspected to be cannabis sativa in a white nylon. He thereafter led operatives on a follow-up operation to the home of a drug lord, Alhaji Bubakari (a.k.a Dan Mamuda), an unrepentant ex-convict, where 19 blocks of compressed cannabis that weighed 13kgs were recovered.”
Credit: Facebook | NDLEA
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