The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has condemned the fines imposed on Channels TV, AIT and Arise TV.
The National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) on Monday, October 26 said the stations broadcasted online photos and videos of the #EndSARS protests.
The media houses have been fined around N3 million each.
The organizations were also accused of using unverified social media photos and videos of the protests and unrest.
The government suggested that their actions fuelled violence across Nigeria.
Acting NBC Director-General, Armstrong Idachaba, at a press conference in Abuja accused the outfits of “unprofessional coverage” of the protests
SERAP in a statement by its Deputy Director Kolawole Oluwadare said the action is yet another example of Nigerian authorities’ push to silence independent media and voices.
“NBC should drop the fines and uphold the Nigerian constitution and international obligations to respect and protect freedom of expression and media freedom. We will sue the NBC if the unconstitutional fines are not rescinded within 48 hours.
“This is a new low in Nigeria’s protection of freedom of expression, and the ability of independent media to function in the country. The fines are detrimental to media freedom, and access to information and the NBC must immediately withdraw the decision
“Media freedom and media plurality are a central part of the effective exercise of freedom of expression and access to information. The ability to practice journalism free from undue interference, to cover peaceful protests and critical views are crucial to the exercise of many other rights and freedoms.
“The media has a vital role to play as ‘public watchdog’ in imparting information of serious public concern and should not be inhibited or intimidated from playing that role. The NBC should stop targeting and intimidating independent media and voices.”
SERAP asked President Muhammadu Buhari to caution the NBC to stop intimidating and harassing independent media houses.
The body said authorities must respect the Nigerian Constitution 1999 [as amended] and the country’s international human rights obligations, including under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights.