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Ortom interview: NBC queries Channels TV

…as DSS denies arresting station’s presenters

The National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) has queried Channels Television over an interview granted to the broadcast station by Mr Samuel Orton, Governor of Benue State. Ortom, had on Tuesday, featured as a guest on Sunrise Daily, a Current Affairs programme on Channels TV, during which he criticised some policies and actions of the Federal Government relating to security.

In a letter dated August 24, 2021 and signed by the Director General, Balarabe Ilelah, NBC said that Channels TV violated six of its rules during the broadcast of the programme. According to the regulator of the broadcast industry, some of the governor’s comments during the interview were “divisive, inciting and unfair”, adding that the anchors on the programme did not “thoroughly interrogate” Ortom. The letter read in part: “The National Broadcasting Commission monitored the broadcast of your programme, Sunrise Daily, between 7:00 a.m. and 9:00 a.m. on Tuesday.

The programme which had as guest, the Executive Governor of Benue State, Samuel Ortom was observed to contain inciting divisive and unfair comments which were not thoroughly interrogated by the anchors. “Consequently, Channels Television is required to explain why appropriate sanctions should not be applied for these infractions of the Nigeria Broadcasting Code. Your response should reach the commission within 24 hours of receipt of this letter.”

In the course of the programme, Orton had accused President Muhammadu Buhari of try-ing to “Fulanise” Nigeria through his latest move to reinvigorate open grazing of cattle. The governor faulted the President’s decision to review grazing reserves across 25 states of the country, at a time open grazing and movement of cattle had become a major trigger of conflicts and wanton destruction of lives and property across Nigeria. Ortom described the review of the grazing reserves as unconstitutional and a violation of the Land Use Act.

“I’m disappointed with the presidency. One would expect that we’re in a democratic governance and the presidency would have understood this. I think Mr President was misquoted or he did it out of error. He should come out to apologise to Nigerians.

There is no basis whatsoever for this to be going on when we have the Constitution,” Ortom said on the live television programme. It could be recalled that the NBC had in April suspended the broadcast license of Channels Television and imposed a N5 million fine on the station for alleged breach of the broadcast code. It is not clear if the current action will dovetail into similar punitive measures.

Meanwhile, the Department of State Services (DSS) has debunked online reports of purported arrest of two presenters with Channels Television. Following Tuesday’s interview with the Governor of Benue State, Mr. Samuel Ortom on the Television’s Sunrise Daily, reports of arrest of the programme’s anchors, Chamberlain Usoh, and Kayode Okikiolu, by personnel of the DSS, had dominated the social media space. But in its reaction, the DSS said nothing could be further from the truth. In a terse statement last night, spokesperson for the Service, Dr. Peter Afunanya, said: “No Channels TV presenters were arrested by the DSS as falsely reported in sections of the media. Fake news peddlers should shun the act.”

 

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