The Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE) has expressed concern over the shutdown of four broadcast stations by Governor Bello Matawalle as threat to democracy.
The editors called on the governor to immediately unseal the broadcast stations.
The Zamfara State Government on Saturday shut down the stations for covering a rally held by the PDP Governorship Candidate in the state, Dr Dauda Lawan Dare.
The state government claimed that the rally was organised despite a ban on campaigns by the state government over alleged security situation in the state.
However, in a statement issued on Monday and signed by the NGE’s President, Mustapha Isah and the General Secretary, Iyobosa Uwugiaren, the umbrella of all the editors in Nigeria, described the action as illegal and a violation of the Nigeria constitution and other international instruments.
’While the NGE doesn’t even want to go into the illegality of the ban on political activities in that state, our primary concern here is the unlawful and unconstitutional action of the state governor against the affected stations for carrying out their constitutional and social obligations – of reporting events and keeping the citizens informed of political developments in the state.
’In fact, the shut stations would have been accused of unprofessional misconduct if they didn’t cover that rally.
"We are also encouraged by the fact that the regulatory agency of broadcasting, the NBC, has also condemned the unlawful action of Governor Bello Matawalle’’, the NGE added.
The body also condemned the action of the governor saying that it amounts to a serious threat to the democratic process and democracy.
‘’The media reserves the right to cover all events, whether or not they are banned.
"No state government reserves the right to shut down any media house, in spite of their perceived infractions.
‘’In this case, the Zamfara State governor should have written a petition to the NBC, if at all the affected stations committed any infraction, instead resorting to self-help.
‘’The Guild stands for press freedom and freedom of expression and will always speak out against any attempt to muzzle the media.’’
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