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Withdraw Sanction Threat On BBC, Daily Trust Under 48 Hours – SERAP Tells Buhari

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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.”

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Breaking: ICPC Detains D’banj Over Alleged Diversion Of N-Power Funds

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Oladapo Oyebanji, better known by his stage name D’banj, has been detained by the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) over the alleged misappropriation of N-Power budget.

Fidel Info reports that the musician was apprehended and held Tuesday when ICPC agents closed in on him and forced him to present himself at the agency’s Abuja headquarters.

D’banj allegedly avoided summons for weeks by claiming to be abroad for scheduled concerts each time he was asked to appear for questioning over fraud allegations.

The pop musician, a famous and wealthy Nigerian, is charged with defrauding the Nigerian government out of hundreds of naira intended for the N-Power project, an empowerment initiative launched by the Nigerian government in 2016 to combat youth unemployment and advance social development.

Investigators contend that D’banj conspired with some tainted government representatives to add fictitious beneficiaries to the scheme’s payroll. Then, the recipients get payments into accounts that are now purportedly connected to the pop star.

After the musician failed to show up for interrogation despite multiple invitations, the ICPC moved to arrest him, forcing him to show up at the commission’s office on Tuesday.

Sources say, on arrival, D’banj was subjected to a prolonged interrogation session after which he was detained. His plea for administrative bail was rejected by officials who said the musician could not be trusted to attend his trial if released on bail.

Sources state that the ICPC might approach the court on Wednesday for an extended remand order to enable the agency complete its investigation before charging the musician to court.

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Squid Game Actor O Yeong-su Charged With Sexual Misconduct

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Squid Game actor O Yeong-su has been charged with sexual misconduct, South Korean judicial officials say.

Fidel Info reports that The 78-year-old is accused of touching a woman inappropriately in 2017, officials said.

Mr O has denied the allegation according to local media.

He became the first South Korean actor to win a Golden Globe award for best supporting actor in a series after his performance in the chart-topping Netflix thriller earlier this year.

The alleged victim first filed a complaint with the police against Mr O in December last year, according to Yonhap news agency. But the case was closed in April without a charge being brought against Mr O.

The prosecution has now reopened the investigation “at the request of the victim.”

Mr O has now been charged without detention, it adds.

Following the charge, Seoul’s culture ministry decided to stop broadcasting a government commercial featuring Mr O, according to local reports cited by AFP news agency.

Squid Game – Netflix’s most popular series of all time – is a thriller series which tells the story of debt-ridden people competing for a huge cash prize in a deadly series of children’s games.

Mr O plays the oldest participant in the survival competition.

Source: BBC

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Insecurity: Bandits Impose Levies On Communities In Zamfara

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A ‘compensation levy’ of varying amounts has reportedly been imposed on some communities in Zurmi LGA of Zamfara State.

Fidel Info reports that a resident of Moriki, in one of the communities in the local council, Aliyu Buhari, said the bandits had, through released captives, demanded that they be paid the levy before residents will be allowed access to their farmlands.

Buhari said some communities have paid and agreed on a reconciliation deal with the bandits, adding that residents of Moriki are currently working on raising the levy.

“People living in Moriki ward were asked to pay the sum of N20 million to be able to enjoy some level of peace,” he said.

Recently, two people were kidnapped from Dauran community in the council and a ransom was paid for their release, while in Kanwa, over 40 people, who are mostly women, were abducted during a house-to-house search by the terrorists.

The bandits are yet to demand any ransom for the release of the abducted persons.

The bandits had earlier imposed a compensation levy of N20 million on Kanwa community. The levy is to serve as a peace deal between the terrorists and the community.

Despite paying the levy, the residents are currently living in tension, as they believe that the recent mass abduction may lead to another levy.

“Currently, people of Moriki community are processing how to contribute the compensation fee. The fee is to enable them to access their farmlands and live peacefully without any fear of attack,” Buhari continued.

Many communities have already paid the compensation fee. Most of them yielded during the rainy season when farmers needed to work on their farmlands.

“In Moriki, during the rainy season, people were allowed to farm, but they started to threaten our peace when it was time to harvest our farm produce.

“Each household in Moriki has been asked to contribute N6,500 to make up the N20 million levy.”

“I understand that the deadline for the payment was last week Saturday, but the community is still working towards sourcing the money.”

“Some communities that have been asked to pay compensation levy include Gidan Shaho, Kadamutsa, and Dada.”

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