Nigeria Fines Broadcasters For ‘Banditry’ Documentary

The National Broadcasting Commission announced sanctions against Multichoice Nigeria Limited, which owns DSTV, TelCom Satellite Ltd, and NTA-Startimes, an alliance between the state-run channel and China’s Star Group, in a press release on Wednesday over a ‘Banditry’ Documentary.

The fines were related to the BBC Africa Eye documentary “Bandit Warlords of Zamfara,” which interviewed bandit leaders and victims to investigate the origins of armed gang violence in northwest Zamfara state.

The commission also fined Local Trust TV five million naira ($12,000) for its documentary “Nigeria’s Banditry — The Inside Story.”

“Broadcasters are urged to be instruments of national unity and refrain from engaging in antics such as using their platforms to promote and glorify subversive elements and their activities,” according to an NBC statement.

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It claimed that the ‘Banditry’ documentaries violated broadcasting regulations.

Last week, the government threatened to punish the BBC and Trust TV for their own  ‘Banditry’ documentary, accusing them of “naked glorification of terrorism” and banditry.

The BBC stated that it stood by the report, which was overwhelmingly in the public interest.

Bandits, or heavily armed criminal militias, are terrorizing rural areas in Nigeria’s northwest and north central states with looting raids, abductions, and attacks.

Nigeria has designated bandit militias as terrorist organizations, in part to give the military more leeway in combating them.

According to Voice of Africa, in recent years, the violence has killed thousands of people and displaced hundreds of thousands more.

Nigeria faced international condemnation over freedom of expression last year after suspending Twitter for seven months following the removal of a tweet from President Muhammadu Buhari’s account.

Twitter was chastised by Nigerian officials for allowing posts from separatist agitators in the country’s southeast.

After demanding stricter conditions for Twitter to operate in Nigeria, Abuja lifted the suspension.

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