by Ranti Joseph
Owner of Daar Communications PLC, Raymond Dokpesi, has reacted to Monday’s decision by the team of President-elect, Muhammadu Buhari, to bar one of its subsidiaries, Africa Independent Television (AIT), from covering his activities.
According to Dokpesi, the move was an attempt by Buhari to bring back the era of Decree 4.
In an interview on Tuesday, Dokpesi declared that Buhari lacks the power to stop the AIT from covering his activities; as such action would amount to breaking the law.
Buhari as Head of State promulgated Decree 4 tagged Public Officers (Protection against false accusation) on March 29, 1984.
The law was to punish authors of false statements and reports that exposed the Buhari administration and/or its officials to ridicule or contempt.
“I am sure that the President-elect needs to be reminded of Decree 4, and he should be clearly reminded that section 32 of the constitution makes it mandatory for the media to hold public officials accountable to the people,” he said.
Dokpesi explained that section 39 of the constitution grants Nigerians the freedom of expression and to hold opinion. “The president-elect said that he does not want to be covered by AIT, but AIT has a responsibility to the Nigerian public to report the things that are happening,” he said.
“There are three national networks available for national coverage in Nigeria, the NTA, AIT and Silverbirds. You cannot stop a foremost private station from reporting in Nigeria, it brings us back to Decree 4 era.”
Dokpesi said Buhari must have taken that decision based on the documentaries that were aired during the electioneering campaign but explained that Daar Communications is a commercial entity, which reserves the right to run anything it considers worthy of being televised.
“If they had produced their own documentary to say this is what we want and AIT did not publish it, then that is another matter,” he said.
“What is obviously very clear is the fact that AIT believes that the historical information about the President elect that were ran were factually correct. Nothing was done to defame him or impinge on his character or integrity.”
“I as an individual is satisfied because due diligence was followed in ensuring that the things that are contained were factually right”.
The All Progressives Congress (APC) on Tuesday reversed the decision to stop AIT, saying all accredited media houses are free to report on Buhari’s activities.