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Silencing of Nigerian media condemned

Rights groups and journalists have expressed concern that media freedom in Nigeria has fallen worryingly below international standards after nationwide seizures of newspapers and restrictions on live political programming were enforced by the government, Independent Online reported

The criticism comes after the country’s broadcasting regulator announced this week that stations would now be required to issue written warning 48 hours in advance of changes to programming schedules to fit in “impromptu” live politics shows.

The announcement follows controversial military pressure on newspapers to “check increasing cases of unprofessional handing” of live political discussions featuring “provocative and highly divisive comments”, said a statement by the National Broadcasting Commission.

Journalists and academics have been up in arms over the edict. They claim it amounts to an authoritarian silencing of dissent by President Goodluck Jonathan’s government, which is on the back foot over its handling of the mass kidnapping of more than 200 schoolgirls by Boko Haram militants.

“Requesting broadcast houses to give NBC 48-hour notice before airing any live political programmes would amount to unbridled censorship and gagging of the media and it is against the spirit and letters of all electoral laws in Nigeria,” the Nigerian Press Organisation (NPO) said.

The NPO added that the move was designed to silence political organisations and pleaded with the government to reconsider what it termed an “anti-democracy and obnoxious decision.

Source: Independent Online


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