The Founder and Chairman Emeritus of DAAR Communications Plc, Chief Raymond Dokpesi, has alleged that its subsidiaries, Africa Independent Television and Raypower FM, are being persecuted by the National Broadcasting Commission on instructions from the Presidency.
Dokpesi, who spoke to journalists during a press conference at the company’s corporate headquarters in Abuja, said he had received reports of several media personalities under AIT been trailed by unidentified gunmen while exiting the office premises.
According to him, the perimeter fencing of the DAAR headquarters was also demolished by the Federal Capital Development Agency, exposing the property to external attacks.
Dokpesi added that the NBC had imposed several fines on AIT and Raypower for its political commentaries, despite the use of editorials and commentaries by media organisations as a standard feature to communicate their positions on issues of public interest.
The DAAR chairman lamented the imposition of N500m in licensing fees to private broadcasting organisations while government-owned broadcasters paid N10m.
He said, “I believe very strongly that under the leadership of the current Director General of the NBC (Is’haq Kawu), press freedom has been greatly eroded. If this was not protected by the President at the top, is it possible that his body language is being interpreted?
“I have it on strict authority and very assured information that the highest echelons of government, the Presidency, queried and challenged the NBC that they were not doing their jobs: ‘How on earth could they be hearing and seeing on AIT what they termed hate speech?’
“Any criticism of this government is hate speech. The NBC is acting under the authority of the President and Commander-in-Chief.”
Dokpesi stated that, as a pioneer in the Nigerian private media industry, he was looking out not only for AIT but all the private stations as well as the Broadcasting Organisation of Nigeria.
He said, “The licensing fees in Nigeria is one of the highest in the world. There is no country in the world where you have this type of exploitative fees. I have appealed for a reduction because the payments cannot be sustained by private broadcasters in Nigeria.
“This economy has plummeted. This government has called this organisation unprintable names which has deterred several advertisers from patronising AIT.
“I sought an audience with the NBC DG. I called, sent letters and sent text messages to him, but he refused. In spite of the fact that we have to run generators 24-hours of the day, I remain committed to keeping the spirit of broadcasting alive.”