Vision Media replies NBC, seeks review of suspension, fine

By Chimezie Godfrey

The Vision FM Media Services Ltd has appealed for a review of the order suspending its program titled “Idon Mikiya” broadcast on Vision FM and Farin Wata TV in the interest of justice and the Nigerian society.

Chairman, Vision Media Services, Umar  Faruk Musa made the appeal in a letter addressed to the Director General of the National Broadcasting Cooperation (NBC).

Recall that the National Broadcasting Commission, NBC had suspended , Idon Mikiya, one of the popular programmes on Vision FM and Farin Wata TV for a period of six months.

NBC  also imposed a fine of  Five Million Naira (N5,000,000.00) on Vision Media Services, to be paid before the suspension is lifted.

The suspension  and fine were conveyed in a letter addressed to the Managing Director, Vision Media Services Limited, Abuja by the NBC dated  28th January, 2022. 

The Vision FM Chairman noted that their program titled “IDON MIKIYA” on vision FM and Farin Wata Television Channel was done  in the interest of justice in country.

He argued that the discussion of issues and appointment at the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) does not and cannot constitute breach of section 39(3) (b) of the 1999 Constitution, among other cogent reasons.

In consideration of the foregoing, the Vision FM Chairman therefore in a letter appealed to the NBC DG to suspend the sanction and set aside the Five Million Naira fine.

The Letter reads in part:”We write to acknowledge your letter dated 28t January, 2022 with reference No NBC/DGABV/LlC02/22 and to respectfully appeal for a review cf the order suspending our program titled “IDON MIKIYA” on vision FM and Farin Wata Television Channel in the interest of justice and Nigerian society at large due to the following reasons:

“A.    Our discussion of issues and appointment at the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) does not and cannot by whatever stretch of imagination constitutes breach of section 39(3) (b) of the 1999 Constitution especially having regards to the unequivocal provisions of the Section.

“B.    In our respectful view, Section 39(3) (b) by its purport and intendment is a restriction designed to control holders of public offices or head of security agencies from enjoying the general freedom of expression enjoined by media and Nigerian citizen at large. It could not have been fairly resorted to justify the suspension.

“C.   The Discussion had no bearing with transmitting trade secrets or other issues regarding National security and as such could not have been justifiably tagged as such.

“D.   That the discussion on the qualifications for appointment at the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) had dominated the mainstream and online media even before 5th January, 2022. Idon Mikiya program of 5 th January, 2022 was not the originator of the discussion surrounding the appointment at NIA and justice will better be served if the originators of the discussion are uncovered and sanctioned appropriately, if same is viewed offensive. Attached herewith for your perusal are copies of some reports which were published before 5th January, 2022.

“E.  The order of suspension constitutes a clear breach of one of the twin principles of natural justice. The suspension order did not point out the offensive part of the program, who amongst the panelist uttered the statement, what evidence was led to substantiate the claim and who led the evidence and its correlation with section allegedly violated prior to the suspension order.

“F.   The mandatory procedure for handling complaints set out in chapter 14 of the Nigeria Broadcasting Code particularly paragraphs 14-3.1-14-3.6 and section 12 of the National Broadcasting Commission Act are not strictly adhered. The Commission failed to arbitrate the complaint and notice to show cause has not been issued before the issuance of the suspension order.

“G.  IDON MIKIYA is one program that attracts widest audience across the country. It provides information on issues of national concern to the addience with immediacy. Its suspension is not only inimical to the Nigerian populace but it is also capable of throwing the large section of Nigerian populace in to darkness.

“H.   The assertion in paragraph 4 of your letter did not truly reflect what transpired at any of your previous meetings with our management, neither the presenter nor the panelists of Idon Mikiya was at anytime found to have violated paragraphs 1.10.3, 3-3.1b, and 3-3.1c of the Nigeria Broadcasting Code.”

Umar pointed out that on the contrary, the only time Vision FM management appeared before the NBC, their program was found to be balanced, fair and free of bias and presenters’ opinion.

He further stated that the content of their program of 5th January, 2022 was fairly and equitably presented.

He added that it was free of bias, sentiments and presenters’ opinion in all standards.

According to him, it balances both sides on the issue, it also captured the opinion of one Professor Sylvester Afolabi who wrote in support of NIA.

“We attached herein the article authored by one Sylvester Afolabi dated 28th December, 2021 which was widely circulated in the media.

“Since the inception of “IDON MIKIYA” program for more than a decade, there had never been an occasion when the program was justifiably found to have breached any law.

“It is against this background, that we make this appeal for a passionate review.

“Sir, you may well be aware that it is within our avowed constitutional responsibilities to raise public awareness about decisions, actions and inactions of governmental agencies and their leadership.

“Vision FM is always at the forefront in contributing our quota in voicing out and drawing attention to the constituted authority about growing concerns, worries, reactions, condemnations or praises all with a view to ensuring effective governance free of rancor and public annoyance.

“In view of the foregoing, we respectfully appeal to the Director General, to use your good offices to lift the suspension and set aside the Five Million Naira fine unjustifiably imposed on us.

“The suspension and fine orders are undeserving and unwarranted having regards to the reasons set out above. We do hope the Commission will act without fear of favour or ill will and in a manner that will guarantee and not undermine the enjoyment of the freedom of expression and independence of the media.

“While we await your usual prompt positive response, please accept the assurance of our highest regards and preparedness to avail ourselves for further discussion on this issue should you find this desirable,” he stated.