Raymond Dokpesi, founder of DAAR Communications Plc, owners of Africa Independent Television (AIT) and Raypower FM, has accused presidency of using the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) to frustrate his stations.
Dokpesi who made the allegation while speaking with journalists during a press conference at the company headquarters in Abuja on Thursday, expressed concern over the leadership of the NBC, claiming that press freedom was no longer guaranteed.
Dokpesi said NBC had imposed several fines on AIT and Raypower for its political commentaries, despite the use of editorials and commentaries as acceptable measures of communicating positions.
“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,” he said.
“If this was not protected by the president, 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.”
He also cited the demolition of some structures within DAAR Communication headquarters by the Federal Capital Development Authority (FCDA) as part of the plot to frustrate him.
Dokpesi lamented the imposition of huge licensing fees to private broadcasting organisations. He said the economy does not provide for the sustenance of such “exploitative” fees.
“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,” he said.
“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.”