For airing the controversial interview of the former Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Dr Obadiah Mailaifa, where he made a damning allegation, including that a northern governor is a Boko Haram commander, Nigeria Info is to cough out a whopping sum of N5m to the National Broadcasting Commission as fine.
The agency, which is the regulatory body for the broadcast industry in Nigeria, said allowing the interview, amounted to unprofessional conduct, as Mailafia, did not substantiate his revelations with facts and that the other parties were not given the opportunity to rebut him.
Entitled, The National Broadcasting Commission Fines Nigeria Info 99.3 For Unprofessional Broadcast, noted that they viewed the interview with great concern, as the station provided its platform for the guest, Mailafia, “to promote unverifiable and inciting views that could encourage or incite to crime and lead to public disorder.”
Incidentally, Mailaifa, who was a guest to the Department of State Services (DSS), on Wednesday, over the same matter, has vowed not to retract the statement, where he also warned that the bandits currently killing people across the country, were going to launch a war on Nigeria in the next two years and that their plot was with the connivance of the government in power.
He had maintained in the Monday edition of popular morning programme, Morning CrossFire that those carrying out the killings in Southern Kaduna, were no different from Boko Haram, which decade-old campaign had claimed thousands of lives and that their activities enjoyed official cover.
He had said in the controversial interview: “Some of us also have our intelligence networks. I have met with some of the bandits; we have met with some of their high commanders – one or two who have repented – they have sat down with us not once, not twice.
“They told us that one of the northern governors is the commander of Boko Haram in Nigeria. Boko Haram and the bandits are one and the same. They have a sophisticated network. During this lockdown their planes were moving up and down as if there was no lockdown.
“They were moving ammunition, moving money, and distributing them across different parts of the country,” the former Presidential candidate of the African Democratic Congress said during the programme.
Mailafia, who was subsequently invited by the DSS, had reported to the Jos office the agency at about 12:48 pm, accompanied by his lawyers, Pius Akubo, a senior advocate of Nigeria (SAN), and Yakubu Bawa, amid a crowd of supporters, who came in solidarity and did not leave till the end of the session.
Addressing the crowd, he said: “We had a lively and intense interview over a radio interview I granted. That interview which was meant for an FM radio station, some just picked the clip — a small section of the 55 minutes broadcast — and put it on social media and it went very very far all over the country, raising a lot of concerns.
“What I want to say is that, yes, all of those words were made by me. You know if the whole of the 55 minutes was played out, the context of what I said in a small clip that went viral would have become clearer.
“I know that I should have taken more care to corroborate some of the information I received, but perhaps some of it was uncorroborated. I was in no position to follow them to the camp to corroborate what was going on.
“But I am not a sensationalist, I am an economist and a central banker; by nature we are not given to sensation. Let me make it clear: I am a humanist; I am a man of peace. Even my name, Mailafia, means a man of peace.
“From the bottom of my heart, I love our country dearly and I abhor all the killings and violence which the innocent people of this country have been subjected to. I pray that Nigeria will never experience another civil war.
“The most elementary duty of government is to protect its citizens. When a government fails to protect its citizens, to protect little children, that is a serious matter. Any innocent boy or girl that is killed is my own child.
“I love Nigeria. Like Mandela, let me say if need be, I am prepared to give my life for Nigeria.
“One of the greatest compatriots of this country, General Theophilus Yakubu Danjuma, observes that no country can survive two civil wars. One civil war is bad enough. I also pray that the killings will stop in Zamfara, in Daura, in Katsina, in Birnin Gwari, in my beloved southern Kaduna, in the whole of the middle belt, in Borno, Adamawa and other places,” he said.
“Let us join hands together to build a new country. Let us work together to save our country and I pray that all of us will do our part to maintain the peace and make sure that our country makes progress.
“I want to thank the officials of the state department. They have done a tremendous job. They treated me professionally. I have not been rough handled and they have been very, very fair and gracious to me.”
Advancing its position on Thursday, the NBC said: “The National Broadcasting Commission has noted with grave concern, the unprofessional conduct of Nigeria Info 99.3FM, Lagos, in the handling of the Programme, “Morning Cross Fire”, aired on August 10, 2020, between 8.30am and 9.00am.
“The station provided its platform for the guest, Dr. Mailafia Obadiah, to promote unverifiable and inciting views that could encourage or incite to crime and lead to public disorder.
“Dr. Mailafia Obadia’s comments on the “Southern Kaduna Crisis”, were devoid of facts and by broadcasting same to the public, Nigeria Info 99.3FM, is in violation of the following sections of the Nigeria Broadcasting Code:
“3.1.1 No broadcast shall encourage or incite to crime, lead to public disorder or hate, be repugnant to public feelings or contain offensive reference to any person or organization, alive or dead or generally be disrespectful to human dignity;
“3.1.2 Broadcasting shall promote human dignity, therefore, hate speech is prohibited;
“3.3.1 (a) The broadcaster shall ensure that any information given in a programme, in whatever form, is accurate;
“188.8.131.52(b) The Broadcaster shall ensure that all sides to any issue of public
interest are equitably presented for fairness and balance;
“3.11.1(a) The broadcaster shall ensure that language or scene likely to encourage or incite to crime, or lead to disorder, is not broadcast;
“3.11.1(b) No programme contains anything which amounts to subversion of constituted authority or compromises the unity or corporate existence of Nigeria as a sovereign state;
“5.4.1(f) The Broadcaster shall not transmit divisive materials that may threaten or compromise the indivisibility and indissolubility of Nigeria as a sovereign state.
“Consequent on these provisions and in line with the amendment of the 6th edition of the Nigeria Broadcasting Code, Nigeria Info 99.3FM Lagos, has been fined the sum of N5,000,000.00 (Five Million Naira), only.
“This is expected to serve as a deterrent to all other broadcast stations in Nigeria who are quick to provide platform for subversive rhetoric and the expositions of spurious and unverifiable claims, to desist from such.
“The Commission wishes to put it on record that it will not hesitate to suspend the Broadcast Licence of broadcast stations that continue to breach the Code.
“Stations are, by this statement, admonished to desist forthwith, from airing unwholesome content, or be ready to face appropriate sanctions.”