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Former Vice President and Presidential candidate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in the just concluded general election, Atiku Abubakar has said the closure of Africa Independent Television AIT and Raypower FM owned by the DAAR Group by the All Progressives-led federal government is a throwback to the era of Decree 4 during which Muhammadu Buhari, then a general in the Nigerian Army, shackled the media in between 1984 and 85.
The National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) suspended the licenses from the stations for promoting “Hate Speech, divisive and inciting comments,” which violated the Broadcasting Code that is backed by provisions of Section 10 of the Third Schedule of the NBC Act Cap N11 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.
NBC Director General, Ishaq Modibbo Kawu, said this in his address on Thursday, that apart from violating the Broadcasting Code, the indefinite suspension was slammed on the media outfits following their failure to pay their license fees as and at when due, even after persistent warnings to the company to toe the line of caution.
However, in a statement issued on Friday by Atiku’s Media Adviser, Paul Ibe, the former Vice President warned that the suspension of the licenses of the DAAR Group and shutting down of its stations revealed a dangerous dark anti-media agenda by the President Buhari’s administration to stifle critical voices in the country.
Atiku explained that the hostility of the President Buhari administration to free press cannot be hidden, despite its pretended commitment to democratic values.
According to Atiku, any situation where the media cannot freely criticize the government poses a grave danger to our democracy.
The PDP presidential candidate said the draconian action against AIT and Ray Power by NBC is only a confirmation of Buhari’s intolerance of free and critical press.
Atiku also explained that the country cannot have a vibrant democratic order where the press is under totalitarian threats from a supposed democratic government.
He added that if the press was not free, the situation would inevitably lead to dictatorship and endanger our struggles to entrench democracy in Nigeria.
The Waziri Adamawa said it was impossible to love democratic values and hate free press at the same time, adding that democracy is not a government of kings or lords who feel superior to the people and not accountable.
Atiku warned that the war against the media was the first stage to turn nation’s democracy into full-blown dictatorship.
“Dictators want to be worshipped rather than being criticised and held accountable for performance or actions. That is why they find democratic order an inconvenience to their sinister desires to kill free speech”, he further noted.
He warned that if Nigerians didn’t defend free speech and free press, their own freedoms might be ultimately jeopardised by the government’s intolerance of