Nigeria fines Multichoice for airing a documentary on insecurity in the country

Multichoice Nigeria has been fined five million naira (about 11,780 euros) by the Nigerian Broadcasting Commission (NBC) after airing a BBC report that the government said “glorified the activities of bandits and undermines national security.”

A similar fine was imposed on other broadcasters for content the government claims breaches national security.

“The Commission wishes to seize this opportunity to advise broadcasters to be circumspect and deliberate in the choice and carriage of contents deleterious to Nigeria’s national security,”  NBC said in a statement

This is not the first time the Nigerian government is locking horns with MultiChoice Nigeria. Last year, the government fined the company $4.4-billion in alleged debt to the Nigerian Revenue Service (FIRS). The company ended up paying $19.4-million towards the claim to settle the dispute.

MultiChoice Nigeria operates DStv, TelCom Satellite Limited and NTA-Startime Limited in the West African country.

The documentary that led to the new fine was aired on Trust TV, owned by the Daily Trust newspaper.

Trust-TV Network Limited responded to the fine with a statement saying “We wish to state unequivocally that as a television station, we believe we were acting in the public interest by shedding light on the thorny issue of banditry.”

The media house aired a documentary by BBC Africa Eye documentary “Bandit Warlords of Zamfara”, which interviewed bandit leaders and victims to look at the roots of violence by armed gangs in northwest Zamfara state.

The country has had a spike of armed criminals known locally as bandits who have kidnapped thousands of Nigerians over the past two years.

The government has been heavily criticized for suppressing free speech and democracy with its frequent crackdowns extending to social media platforms.

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Simon W Nderitu

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