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NBC Cautions broadcast media against Secessionists, terrorist agenda.

Balarabe Shehu Ilelah, Director-General of the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) photo by Collins Enahoro.

• Deepen Internet penetration, MRA urges FG

The Director General, National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), Balarabe Ilelah, yesterday, cautioned broadcast media to be wary of interest groups seeking to destabilise the country.

He highlighted the activities of secessionists in the South and the impact of kidnappers, bandits and terrorists across the country, urging the media to downplay content that could threaten peace.

Ilelah made this known while addressing chief executive officers of broadcast stations from the North West and North East in Kano. He also lamented the surge in social disorder, which he said is fast metamorphosing into crimes and conflict. He regretted what he considered the unfortunate role of broadcast media in promoting the prevailing tension.

He urged broadcasters to consider public interest first in their programmes and news contents, saying the NBC will resist attempts by any group to destroy the country. He also reminded the executives of the terms and conditions they signed with the commission before receiving operating licences.

He said: “As professional broadcasters, we have the responsibility to cautiously weigh the impact of our content on the people. In times of crisis and emergencies, public interest must be the central focus. It is not a time for sensational reportage. Let us be wary of people who are hell-bent on destabilising the peace of the country and causing disaffection among its people.

“The Nigeria Broadcasting Code is explicit on guidelines for coverage and reportage during periods of crisis, emergencies and conflicts. There is no gainsaying the fact that the 1999 Constitution has actually empowered broadcasters to report the daily factual account of events and issues, including holding the government accountable. But that should be exercised with civility.”

The Federal Government, meanwhile, has been urged to reverse decline in the number of Nigerians online. Media Rights Agenda (MRA) disclosed this in a statement made available to The Guardian in Jalingo, Taraba State.

Signed by Communications Officer, Idowu Adewale, MRA noted that from monthly figures published by the National Communications Commission (NCC), the number of active Internet subscriptions has been declining steadily over a period of eight months.

Adewale said in November 2020, there were 154,437,623 active Internet subscriptions in Nigeria across three different communication technologies, namely: Global System for Mobile (GSM) communication; fixed wired telephone; and Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP).

He said the number, however, dropped slightly to 153,873,786 in December 2020 and then sharply to 150,898,122 in January 2021.

“Since then, the figure has continued to fall monthly at an alarming rate, going to 148,133,233 in February 2021, 144,581,026 in March; 141,407,324 in April; 140,132,128 in May and currently stands at 139,814,913 as at June,” he said.