The President-Elect, Bola Tinubu, has written a petition to the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), asking the commission to sanction Channels Television for allegedly breaching the Nigerian Broadcasting Code during a recent interview with Labour Party’s Vice Presidential candidate, Datti Baba-Ahmed.
In the petition dated 30th March, 2023 and signed by the All Progressives Congress presidential campaign council Director of Media and Publicity, Bayo Onanuga, the president-elect had said:
“In line with Section 14.0.1 of the Nigerian Broadcasting Code 6th edition stating the duty of the National Broadcasting Commission to accept complaints from aggrieved persons, bodies or members of the public and investigate as well as apply sanctions where necessary, the All Progressives Congress Presidential Campaign Council hereby petitions the Commission on what it considers breaches by CHANNELS TV last week on its programme ‘Politics Today’ which airs daily at 7pm on weekdays”,
The former Lagos State governor accused Baba-Ahmed of making several comments attacking the integrity of the 25 February 2023 Presidential elections. In the interview, Datti faulted the emergence of Tinubu as the President-elect and categorically asked President Buhari and the Chief Justice of Nigeria not to swear him in.
In his petition, Tinubu said the host of the show should have cautioned the Labour party candidate for making such unguarded comments and that for failing to do so, the station should be sanctioned.
The petition in part reads
“He (Datti) said the Labour Party won the elections. This is a fallacy and not correct. According to the Code, a Broadcaster is liable when his guest is allowed to make a wild statement that is inaccurate and not based on fact. The only factual figures empirically collated as the final result is the one released by the Independent National Electoral Commission which placed Labour party as third.
The guest on the programme in question Datti Baba -Ahmed said the President of the country Muhammadu Buhari should not swear in the President-elect because he did not score 25% vote in the FCT, being one of the prerequisites for being declared winner. This is a subversive statement since the matter is before the tribunal and is among the issues submitted in their petition to the courts for adjudication. Therefore until and unless the court rules otherwise, the status quo is the INEC position as declared in the final results
The guest Datti Baba Ahmed’s comments about Labour Party winning the presidential vote undermines constituted authority given to INEC in the 1999 Constitution as the body vested with the powers to conduct and announce the results of national general elections in Nigeria. Any other figures will have to be certified by the tribunal as the authentic one
Therefore Mr Datti’s comments that the INEC certificate of return issued to the President-elect is a “dud cheque” and is null and void is not only divisive, subversive but also inciting and inflammatory.
The Code states in Section 3.8.1(b) that ‘A Broadcaster shall ensure that no programme contains anything which amounts to subversion of constituted authority or compromises the unity or corporate existence of Nigeria as a Sovereign state’.
The statement by Mr Datti Baba-Ahmed later on the same programme that if ‘President Buhari should hand over to the President-elect Bola Ahmed Tinubu by May 29, that would be the end of democracy’ is another case of unguarded utterance.
This is in breach of Section 5.3.3(b) which states that – ‘A Broadcaster shall avoid inflammatory and divisive matters in its provocative form in using political material’.
Furthermore, Section 126.96.36.199 states that- ‘No Broadcaster shall encourage or incite to crime, lead to public disorder or hate, or repugnant to public feelings’ materials that cause disaffection.
By denying the authenticity of the INEC Presidential election results Mr Datti is at liberty to seek for the voiding of the results, but until the court or tribunal upturns those results they remain the authentic results. Channels TV cannot encourage him to use its platform to create anarchy by disputing results on air without corroborating his facts.
In asking the President not to swear in the President-elect he is subverting the Independent National Electoral Commission INEC’s constitutionally guaranteed authority.
In using words like ‘handing over to the President-elect Bola Ahmed Tinubu will be the end of democracy’ he is not only promoting a threat but instigating a call to rebellion against the state. This is antithetical to the use of the media for social harmony and peaceful
It is our considered opinion that the guest Datti Baba-Ahmed was not only provocative but also inciting the public and the Labour Party followers to delegitimise the outcome of the elections but also propagate resistance against the incoming dully elected administration. of Bola Ahmed-Tinubu and Kashim Shettima.
We therefore urge the Commission to invoke the necessary sanctions on Channels TV for the breaches enumerated above”.