The International Press Center criticised the recent closure of some media outlets by the government of Zamfara State on Tuesday, calling it unacceptable and a breach of the law.
Radio Nigeria, Pride FM Gusau, NTA Gusau, Gamji Television, Vision FM, and Al Umma TV were among the media outlets that were impacted.
The IPC called on the Inspector-General of Police to provide the necessary protection to all journalists and media outlets within Zamfara State and its surroundings, as provided for under the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, while also suggesting that the Presidency should issue Governor Bello Matawalle with a warning because he had acted outside the bounds of his executive authority.
The state government had ordered the shutdown because “the media outlets affected were found guilty of breaking the laws of journalism.”
A statement by Zamfara Commissioner of Information, Ibrahim Dosara, had also directed the Commissioner of Police in the state to arrest all pressmen that attended an event organised by the PDP governorship candidate, Dauda Lawal Dare.
The Executive Director of IPC, Lanre Arogundade, in a statement, said that the closure of the media outlets was “another attempt to stifle press freedom in the country warning that the government should subject itself to the rule of law and not be the accuser and judge in its case.”
He said, “This closure is an attempt by the Zamfara state government to suppress freedom of the press in the state. Directing the Police to further arrest pressmen for attending an event is worrisome and a violation of citizens’ right to be informed.”
Arogundade advised the Zamfara state government to take its case to the media regulatory bodies vested with the power to sanction or withdraw licenses of media outlets who may be found guilty of breaking the laws of journalism.
“It is not within the powers of the Governor or his agents, under whatever guise, to carry out such duties, as shutting down or sealing off media houses. This should be condemned by all,” he said.
The IPC, therefore, requested the Federal Government and the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), to caution Matawalle as he had acted beyond his executive powers.
He also called on the Inspector General of Police to provide the necessary protection to all journalists and media outlets within Zamfara state and its environs as envisaged under the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“There should be no disturbances or threats to the electoral processes as all Nigerians look forward to a smooth election in 2023”, Arogundade said.
Zamfara government has, however, withdrawn the order to shut down the affected media houses.
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