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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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APC Has Failed Nigeria -Wike ….Affirms PDP Is Only Hope For Nigeria

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Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike has said that the All Progressives Congress (APC) has failed Nigerians on all fronts.
Governor Wike made the remark when the Rivers State executive of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) paid him a courtesy visit at Government House, Port Harcourt, yesterday.
The Governor recalled how the APC promised Nigerians of solving most challenging national issues but has continued to give excuses for their failure.
“Nigeria is hoping for PDP, APC has failed Nigeria. This is no more time for promises. You have promised and you have failed. There is nothing to try you again.
“Nigerians have realised that it is better they stay with the PDP that has the interest of Nigeria at heart than a Party that gives excuses everyday.
“You know there are problems in Nigeria and you made promises, asking Nigerians to vote for you and for five years, nothing has changed”, he stated.
Governor Wike told the delegation that his attention is focused on governance and delivering service to the people.
“Let me say clearly that this is no time for politics. My concern now is to make sure we deliver all the promises we have made to the people of the state. When politics comes, we will have our report card to show the people.
“It has never happened in the history of this country. Within one year, a State Government will construct five flyovers projects at the same time.
“In October last year, three flyover projects were flagged-off and they will be completed this December, 2020. In July, we started expansion of Rumuola flyover and tomorrow, we will sign contract papers with Julius Berger Nigeria PLC for the GRA junction flyover, that includes the dualisation of Ezimgbu Link Road and Tombia Road extension.
“So many people ask us where we get money for the projects during this COVID-19 pandemic. I tell them if God is with you, you will not have any problem. God has given us the opportunity at this point in time and he will not abandon us.
“We will be executing projects and also continue to fight to make sure our people are safe. We will provide basic infrastructure for our people and also improve the economy of our State. We cannot give excuses but we will continue to do our best,” he stated.
Governor Wike urged the Party executives to show more love to the party by being loyal and committed.
He endorsed the action plan of the Party executive and urged them to do their best in consolidating the gains of the Party in the State.
“As Officers you owe the Party a lot. You have to consolidate the gains we have already recorded.
“No State can say they are better off than Rivers State. We have successfully conducted our Congresses without problems. God has given us what it takes. With all the people working with us and showing commitment, we will move this State to the next level of positive development.
“I plead with you all to work cooperatively with the chairman and be united. We are going to work together to draw up a plan that will make us more effective.
“Let nobody deceive you to attend any meeting anybody will call because he wants to run for governorship. We have not come to that point. I have just stayed one year in office in my second tenure. We are working for our Party to be united to make sure that APC does not have a breathing space in our State.
“There is nothing the APC can say to Rivers people today as the reason they should be voted for. Whether it is the federal government, or their political appointees, they have nothing to tell us.
“The money they have approved for us as refund has not been given to us. But I am not worried. I will continue to work. We have something we can show to Rivers people,” he said.
The governor reminded them that local government primaries would be held this year and urged them to commence consultations on how to achieve success.
On COVID-19, the Governor enjoined them to adhere to the protocols of wearing of face mask in all public places, social distancing, washing of hands with running water and soap, and use of hand sanitizers.
Rivers State Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Ambassador Desmond Akawor said the Party has passed a vote of confidence on Governor Wike for the various people- oriented projects executed in the 23 local government areas of the state.
He noted the swift response of the governor to contain the spread of COVID-19 pandemic in the state including the restoration of the glory of the State.
Ambassador Akawor presented the action plan of the new executive that will guide their activities in consolidating on the gains made by the past executive.
He assured that they would embark on aggressive membership drive and reconciliation of aggrieved members.

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RSG Debunks Receipt Of N78bn Refund From FG …Dissolves Taskforce On Illegal Street Trading, Motor Parks …Pulls Out Of FG’s Public Works Programme

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Rivers State Government has debunked the misconception that it has received N78 billion refund from the Federal Government.
The State Commissioner for Information and Communications, Pastor Paulinus Nsirim, made the clarification yesterday in a Radio Programme.
Pastor Nsirim explained that there is a huge difference between approval and release of funds.
“As at today, the Rivers State Government is yet to receive the N78 billion. There is so much misconception out there. There is a difference between approval and release of funds.
“When the money is released it cannot be a secret because in government circles such an information cannot be hidden.
“Let me state categorically that if the money is received today, it will be made public. So, this idea of peddling propaganda that the money has been received by mischief makers is quite unfortunate,” he stated.
He also used the opportunity to clear the air on the questions being asked in several quarters over what the State Government needs more loans for when it has N78 billion, saying, “you cannot plan with what you do not have.”
The Commissioner also assured Rivers people that when the refund is finally received, the State Government would use it judiciously for the benefit of the people.
“If the refund is received they can always count on Governor Nyesom Wike to use it judiciously to increase the infrastructural development of the State.
In another development, the State Government has approved the dissolution of the State Taskforce on Illegal Street Trading and Motor Parks with immediate effect.
A statement signed by the Commissioner for Information and Communications, Pastor Paulinus Nsirim said “consequently, the Special Assistant to the Governor in charge of the Task Force, Mr. Bright Amaewhule has been relieved of his appointment”.
The statement continued that “members of the Taskforce are hereby directed to return the operational vehicles and Identity Cards of the body to the Office of the Secretary to State Government not later than 4pm tomorrow, Wednesday, August 12, 2020.
“They will be paid their salaries as they return the vehicles and Identity Cards. Government will reconstitute the Taskforce after proper orientation and training”.
Meanwhile, the Rivers State Government has pulled out of the Special Public Works Programme of the Federal Government where 774,000 unskilled Nigerians were supposed to be employed.
Nominee of the Rivers State government in the committee, Erastus Awortu, made the decision of the state known in a letter addressed to the Minister of State for Labour and Productivity, Festus Keyamo, SAN.
Awortu, who is also the Special Adviser to Governor Nyesom Wike on NDDC, alleged that the implantation of the programme, which was designed to employ 1,000 persons per local government area, has been hijacked by the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Rivers State.
The Rivers State nominee described the Special Public Works Programme as a scam.
Awortu said in the letter, “At the beginning, some guidelines were set on how the slots should be shared among the various interest groups. The various interest groups are 35 and have representatives in the committee but unfortunately, that is not being done by the committee. The guidelines are not being followed.
“The committee has been asking people to process their applications but we found out that they also gave out forms to APC members in the state. Which means they already know those they will shortlist for the programme and they are only stressing other people to apply. They are doing that to justify that due process is being followed but that is not the case.
“I find it very misleading and as the representative of the governor, I will not be part of that kind of process where the populace will be made to apply for what is not available. It is an absolute scam.
“Accordingly, I want to say that since the slots are not defined as per the guidelines that the state is willing to allow the programme be run fully as an APC empowerment programme for their members and cease to be part of it forthwith,” Awortu said.
The Chairman of the Special Public Works Programme in River State, Dr Innocent Barikor, had on a radio programme over the weekend in Port Harcourt, said the committee had no plans to undermine the state government in the implementation of the programme.
According to the letter made available to The Tide, Awortu copied the Rivers State Governor, Chief NyesomWike and the Chairman of the Public Works Programme, Dr Innocent Barikor, in the withdrawal letter.

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Assailants Murder Obiano’s SSA On Security

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Unknown assailants yesterday stormed the residence of Mr Azubuike Ekwegbalu, the Senior Special Assistant to Governor Willie Obiano of Anambra State on Security, leaving him dead after allegedly stabbing him with a kitchen knife.
Our correspondent gathered that the incident occurred early hours of yesterday at his residence at the Commissioners’ Quarters, Awka, a high brow area for government officials.
An eyewitness said the late Ekwegbalu, who hails from Ogbunike in Oyi Local Government Area of the state, was a close relation to the wife of the governor.
“He was murdered by unknown men last night at the commissioners’ quarters, Awka.
“This is barbaric. May his soul rest in peace.
“Security operatives must do all that is possible to bring the killers to justice,” the source said.
Confirming the incident in a statement, the spokesman for the Police Command in the state, SP Haruna Mohammed, said one suspect, who was seen in the premises had been arrested.
“On August 9, 2020, about 1:30 a.m., there was a report of alleged murder of one Azuibuike Ekwegbalu, aged 43 years, native of Ogbunike in Oyi LGA but resident at the Commissioners quarters Awka.
“Following the report, Police detectives attached to ‘B’ Division Awka led by the DPO, CSP Emma Ogbuanya visited the scene and rushed victim who was found in a pool of blood to COOUTH Awka for medical attention.
“He was certified dead by the medical doctor on arrival while his corpse was deposited at the hospital mortuary for autopsy,” he noted.
Mohammed said a careful observation on the deceased body revealed stab wounds while a blood-stained kitchen knife was also recovered as an exhibit at the scene.
“Consequently, one suspect who allegedly was in the premises has been arrested and the case is under investigation to unravel the circumstances surrounding the incident,” he stated.

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