The offence: The broadcast firm aired a documentary on 5th of March, 2022, in which major issues around banditry in Nigeria were exposed. Non-state actors like Bello Turji was interviewed in the documentary.
Similarly, in a 50-minute documentary titled ‘The Bandit Warlords of Zamfara’, published on Monday, July 25, 2022, the BBC Africa Eye provided insight into the mindset of bandit kingkins and kidnap-for ransom industry in northern Nigeria.
FG reacts: In response to the development, Federal Government through the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, disclosed that it would take appropriate action against the broadcasters for what the minister termed “naked glorification of terrorism.“
“All I can say is that there is a regulatory body, the Nigerian Broadcasting Commission (NBC) and they are also aware of these incidents and are looking at which part of the broadcasting codes have been violated by both the BBC and the Daily Trust,” Mohammed said.
The hammer falls: In a statement released by the Trust TV management on Wednesday, August 3, 2022, the firm confirmed that the NBC had imposed a fine of N5 million on it, as contained in a letter signed by the NBC Director General, Balarabe Shehu Illela.
Illela stated that Trust TV was penalised because its broadcast of the said documentary contravened sections of the National Broadcasting Code.
Trust TV statement: “While we are currently studying the Commission’s action and weighing our options, 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 and how it is affecting millions of citizens of our country.
“The documentary traces the root of the communal tensions and systemic inadequacies which led to the armed conflict that is setting the stage for another grand humanitarian crisis in Nigeria. It presents insights into the intersection of injustice, ethnicity and bad governance as drivers of the conflict. It also aggregates voices of experts and key actors towards finding solutions, including those of the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, and Senator Saidu Mohammed Dansadau, who hails from one the worst-hit communities in Zamfara State.
“Other experts featured in the documentary include scholars like Professor Abubakar Saddique of the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria and Dr. Murtala Ahmed Rufai of the Usmanu Danfodio University, Sokoto, who have both studied the subject of banditry for a long period.
“The documentary also brought to the fore the horrifying stories of victims of banditry.”