Friday, 20 March 2020

AIT Writes Muhammadu Buhari Over Event Coverage Barring In Abuja


 Africa Independent Television (AIT) has written a letter of protest to President Muhammadu Buhari over the way and manner its crew were barred from covering the 2020-2025 Broadband Plan event that took place in Abuja on Thursday.

AIT crew were asked to leave the venue by an unidentified top government official .

This is the letter signed by the Group Managing Director Of DAAR Communications Plc Mr Tony Akiotu

OPEN LETTER TO MR. PRESIDENT

DAAR PLC/GMD/AIT/PRESIDENCY       
March 19, 2020                   
His Excellency
Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR
President, Federal Republic of Nigeria
The Presidency
Aso Villa
Abuja


PROTEST AGAINST THE BARRING OF AFRICA INDEPENDENT TELEVISION (AIT) CREW FROM THE COVERAGE OF THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT’S UNVEILING OF THE 2020 – 2025 BROADBAND PLAN BY HIS EXCELLENCY – PRESIDENT MUHAMMADU BUHARI
This letter submits a protest to Your Excellency on the rather embarrassing treatment that was meted out to our crew that was on ground for the coverage of the Federal Government’s Unveiling of the 2020 – 2025 Broadband Plan by Your Excellency today; March 19, 2020 at Digital Economy Complex, Abuja in which AIT crew were ordered out unceremoniously by the officials of Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC).
For your kind attention Sir, our organization as part of our constitutional responsibility as enshrined in Sections 22, 36(1) and 39(2) of the 1999 Constitution (as Amended) took it upon itself to cover the event in-spite of not being paid. Patriotically and motivated by our pact with the good people of the Federal Republic of Nigeria we have always discharged our duties and responsibilities through the instrumentality of the media; professionally, resourcefully and diligently since the deregulation of the broadcast sector in 1992.



Surprisingly and unexpectedly, one of the officials of the Organizer ordered our crew to vacate the venue immediately claiming that it was an “Order From Above”. On further investigation from the Presidency, we were informed that such an order did not come from the Villa.
We wish to state that in the past years; apart from the 2015 incident wherein we were equally directed to stop covering the then elected President before his assumption of office in May 2015 and in one other instance,  we have been covering similar Presidential events and other equally important national events all at our own expense; as service to our dear Fatherland.
That we were ordered out the venue of today’s event is to us a most embarrassing and worrisome development and it is indeed a contradiction to the Freedom of Information Act (FOI) and the sustenance of democratic values.
By this, we most respectfully seek Your Excellency’s most respected intervention on the reasons and circumstances that led to such an embarrassing action against our station:
1.        What is the offence of our Organisation?

2.        What possibly did we do either knowingly or unknowingly that     necessitated the action that was taken against AIT?

3.        In the past, we have so discharged our constitutional and social     responsibilities by covering such related events and why were     we disbarred from covering today’s event and our crew sent out     of the venue unceremoniously.
In retrospect, we feel so unfairly treated as we have contributed so greatly, remarkably, significantly and outstandingly to our present democratic dispensation in the country. We recall with nostalgic pains our role during the hey days of  militarism and the role that our organization played in enthroning democracy in the country and through the years, how  we have deployed our resources – financial, technical and moral, to the sustenance of democratic values and ethos including the support that we have extended to President  Muhammadu Buhari personally since 2003 and most specifically, upon his assumption of office since 2015 till date.


In conclusion, we most respectfully appeal to Mr. President  to use his constitutional powers to protect the media, most especially DAAR Communications PLC; owners and operators of Africa Independent Television (AIT) and Raypower FM as we continue to add value to the sustenance of democracy from undue harassment and intimidation as we are taken aback from this so called “Order From Above” from the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC).
Once again, kindly accept the assurances of our best wishes and regards.

Tony Akiotu
Group Managing Director

CC:    The Senate President
    The Speaker of House of Representative
    The Chairman, Senate Committee on Information
    The Chairman, House Committee on Information
    The Inspector General of Police
    The Director General, Department of State Security (DSS)
    The Hon. Minister of Information & Culture
    The Director General, National Broadcasting Commission (NBC)
    The Chairman, Broadcasting Organisations of Nigeria (BON)

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