The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project has told President Muhammadu Buhari to urge the National Broadcasting Commission to withdraw the revocation order on debtor stations.
NBC had on Friday stated that licenses of the debtor stations had been revoked and they had within 24 hours to shut down operations but that has now been extended till Wednesday.
But SERAP, in a letter dated 20 August 2022 and signed by the deputy director, Kolawole Oluwadare, called for the withdrawal of the revocation order.
The group urged Buhari to “urgently instruct Mr Lai Mohammed, Minister of Information and Culture, and the National Broadcasting Commission to urgently withdraw the threat to revoke the licenses and shut down the operations of 53 broadcast stations in the country over alleged failure to renew their licenses.”
The organisation said, “The threat to shut down 53 broadcast stations is neither necessary nor proportionate. If carried out, it would offend the legal principles of equity and equality of access to mass communication.
“Under the Nigerian Constitution 1999 [as amended] and international human rights law, freedom and diversity must be guiding principles in the regulation and licensing of broadcasting. The threat to shut down 53 broadcast stations is entirely inconsistent and incompatible with these principles.
“Revoking the licenses of 53 broadcast stations and shutting down their operations because they have not renewed their licenses would undermine the rights of millions of Nigerians to express their thoughts.”
The letter read in part, “With just months to go before the general elections, scheduled for February 2023, your government ought to do more to create conditions for a free and fair vote. This includes demonstrated commitment to freedom of expression.
“Shutting down 53 broadcast stations on the pretext of non-renewal of their licenses is neither necessary in a democratic society nor proportionate to meet the constitutional and international guarantees of freedom of expression.”