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Hate Speech, Inciting Comments …As Stiffer Penalties For Broadcasting Code’s Violation Take Effect …Jonathan Keeps Mum After Meeting Buhari

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President Muhammadu Buhari has approved the review of the National Broadcasting Code and extant broadcasting laws to reflect stiffer penalties for violators of broadcasting regulations.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, who disclosed this, yesterday, in Abuja while inaugurating the National Broadcasting Commission Reform Implementation Committee, said that the President specifically approved the upward review of fines from N500,000 to N5million for breaches relating to hate speeches, inciting comments and indecency.
He said the President also approved that wilful repeat of infractions on three occasions after levying fine on a station should attract suspension of license.
The minister said Buhari also approved the upgrade of breach of political comments relating to hate speeches and divisive comments to “Class A” offence in the Broadcasting Code.
The President has also endorsed the implementation of reforms to end all forms of monopoly detrimental to the actualisation of the immense potential of the broadcast industry.
Other approvals by the President, according to the minister, are “Amendment of the NBC Act to enable NBC license WebTV and radio stations, including foreign broadcasters beam signals into Nigeria.
“Recruitment of more monitoring staff for the NBC. At the moment, there are only about 200 staff monitoring about 1,000 radio and television stations.
“Deployment of adequate monitoring equipment and technologies for the NBC and enhancement of welfare packages of NBC staff to avoid their being compromised in the line of duty”.
The President, according to the minister, said that the reviewed code must also ensure the independence of the NBC from political interference in the exercise of its regulatory powers, particularly with respect to the issuance and withdrawal of broadcasting license.
Mohammed said the decisions were a sequel to the deliberations at the Federal Executive Council meeting of March 27, on the unprofessional and unethical conduct of some broadcast stations, especially before and during the last general election.
“The President directed me to institute an inquiry into the conduct of the stations and report back to the council
“Consequently, I inaugurated a five-member committee on Wednesday, April 10, 2019 with the following terms of reference: ‘To find out to what extent the NBC was able to effectively carry out its regulatory role before and during the 2019 general election.
“Recommend measures that could strengthen NBC’s regulatory role and make it more effective.
“The committee submitted its report on April 24, 2019, with 26 recommendations, and I subsequently forwarded the report to Mr. President, who has since approved them’,” he said.
The minister, therefore, charged the reform implementation committee to carry out a thorough job that will reposition the NBC as a effective and efficient regulator.
The Terms of Reference of the Implementation Committee, as listed by the minister, include to immediately commence work on all statutory, legal and regulatory framework for further legislative action on the review of the NBC Act by the National Assembly; to immediately assess and propose equipment, materials and training needed to make the NBC a modern and well-positioned regulator and to liaise with relevant agencies to ensure the provision of the manpower needs of the commission to enable it function optimally.
He also said the committee is to immediately establish and publicize a new sanctioning, fines and penalty regime that is in line with international best practice, promote professionalism and serve as a deterrent to erring practitioners against misconduct, especially hate speech, violence and spread of fake news.
The committee is also saddled with the responsibility of establishing and publishing a new regulation for the licensing of Web and Internet broadcasters/International broadcasters in Nigeria, in addition to ending all forms of monopoly detrimental to the actualization of the immense potential of the broadcast industry.
The committee is chaired by the Director, Broadcast Monitoring of NBC, Prof. Armstrong Idachaba, while the Chief Press Secretary, Federal Ministry of Information and Culture, Mr. Joe Mutah, will serve as Secretary.
Other members are Sir Godfrey Ohuabunwa, Acting Chairman of the Broadcasting Organisations of Nigeria (BON); Mr. J.K. Ehicheoya, Esq, Director, Legal Services, Federal Ministry of Information and Culture; Hajia Binta Adamu Bello, Secretary General, Association of Local Governments of Nigeria (ALGON); Mr. Ibrahim Jimoh, Director of Administration, Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria; Hon. Agbo Kingsley Ndubuisi, Board Member, NBC, as members.
Meanwhile, the committee has six weeks to submit its report.
Also, ex-President Goodluck Jonathan, yesterday, declined to comment on the outcome of his meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
The agenda of the meeting between Buhari and Jonathan, which lasted for about 15 minutes, was not made known to newsmen.
The former president, who was escorted to his car by the State Chief of Protocol, Amb Lawal Kazaure, only answered greetings from State House correspondents and other staff.
When journalists tried to find out details of what transpired between him and Buhari, Jonathan simply shunned them, and hoped into his car, and drove off.
It would be recalled that Jonathan and Buhari had met behind closed doors at the Presidential Villa, Abuja to discuss a number of national issues.
The former president arrived the State House at 3.00p.m, and went straight to the President’s office for the meeting.
The former president, who was visiting the Presidential Villa for the fifth time since the swearing-in of the Buhari administration on May 29, 2015, was last seen in the State House in 2016.

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We’re Not Taking Mandate Of Rivers People For Granted, Wike Insists

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The Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike has reiterated commitment of his administration to work tirelessly in advancing the state and improve the quality of living of Rivers people.
Speaking to journalists during an unscheduled inspection of four ongoing flyover projects in Port Harcourt and Obio/Akpor local government areas of the state, Wike said more democratic dividends are in the offing for the people of the state.
The governor explained that his administration will continue to honour the social contract reached with Rivers’ people since 2015 to provide them good governance and quality infrastructure.
“For us, we owe them that duty to make sure that the mandate they’ve given to us will not be taken for granted. That is why all the members of our team are working, trying to make sure that we satisfy the yearnings of our people.”
The governor asserted that with commitment and passion, there is nothing any sincere government cannot accomplish in terms of providing basic infrastructure that can bring about the necessary transformation of the life of the people.
“It is very easy. The funds are there. When people ask us where do we get funds, we laugh. it is a matter of management, being prudent with the little you have. It is not as if we have a lot of money. The little we have, we have to manage it in a way that we can say, this is what we did with funds available to us.”
The governor frowned at the operations of illegal parks and other illegal trading activities around the ongoing flyover projects.
According to him, such despicable activities do not speak well of the state that is investing huge resources to enhance the status of the state capital and improve commerce.
“We have taken a decision that we are going to barricade off, and stop operations of all the unnecessary motor parks that are springing up. We want to make sure that people know that they cannot just wake up in the morning and decide to take government space and use as your private park.”
Speaking further, Wike stated that henceforth, any business place within whose precinct refuses are found, will be sealed up in the state. The decision, he said, is informed by the carefree attitude displayed by members of the public towards issues of sanitation.
According to him, if owners of business premises do not litter their premises and discourage others, the state will be cleaner.
Wike said, his administration has the political will to implement the new order because, in the long run, it will result in a change of behaviour and increase the attention members of the public pay to issues of sanitation.
“Those at Aba Road axis of the Rumuola area will be the first victims. Thereafter, others will follow, so that people will know that government is very serious.
“So, all those who litter refuse, and operate motor parks will have themselves to blame. This is not the time people will tell you that the economy is hard. If the economy is hard, does it mean that you’ll sell your goods and litter the places with the refuse.
“Why do you have to litter the area, thinking that government will come and clean them up for you. No, nobody will do that any longer.”
The flyover projects inspected by the governor included the Rumuola, GRA Junction, Orochiri/Wurukwo and Oru-Abali flyovers.

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Jonathan’s Appointment As ISCP-Africa Chair Excites PDP

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The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), yesterday, congratulated former President, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, on his appointment as chairman of the International Summit Council for Peace, ISCP-Africa.
On Jonathan’s appointment as ISCP-Africa, an association of incumbent and former heads of state and their deputies, established in 2019 by the Universal Peace Federation UPF, an organization in general consultative status with the United Nations (UN), the party said in a congratulatory message, “is in recognition of his leadership qualities as a democrat as well as his resounding success in peacekeeping efforts across the world.”
The statement by the spokesman of the PDP, Kola Ologbondiyan, read, “Our party is assured that former President Jonathan, will deploy his wealth of experience strengthened by the democratic tenets and principles of our great party, in his new mandate of providing direction for the essentials of peace, security, and development in Africa.
“The party also congratulates President Jonathan on his appointment as the Chancellor of Cavendish University, Uganda (CUU).
“The PDP is elated that former President Jonathan is so honoured to hold the position previously held by late President Kenneth Kaunda of Zambia as well as late President Benjamin Mkapa of the Republic of Tanzania, because of his commitment to education and human capital development, in line with the ideals of the PDP.
“Our party congratulate Dr. Jonathan and urged him to use the positions to further the advancement of peace and development in Africa and the world at large.”

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PVC: 14,130 Persons Register Online In Rivers

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Over 14,130 persons have registered online ahead of the physical registration of voters by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
The figures were contained in a document released by INEC in Rivers State, yesterday.
The INEC in the state reiterated that the physical registration of voters will commence on July 26, 2021.
The commission said the physical exercise will involve capturing of finger prints and photographs of those who had started the process online, while those who were yet to begin the process will also be registered.
Statistics released by the commission indicated that a total of 752,011 persons have been registered online across the 36 states of the federation as last Monday, with Osun State taking the lead with 232,808 registrants.

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