The Buhari administration on Wednesday slammed Trust TV with a N5m fine for daring to air a documentary that exposed the arrow heads and the root cause of banditry in Nigeria.
Trust TV is the television arm of Daily Trust Newspaper. The documentary titled ‘Nigeria’s Banditry: The Inside Story’, was aired in March this year, but only got the spotlight after the BBC produced a similar documentary penultimate week.
The BBC’s documentary is titled ‘Bandits Warlords of Zamfara’. Both documentaries have similar narrative.
The documentary traces the origin of banditry in Zamfara to communal clashes between communities of Hausa and Fulani. Interviews with top leaders of the banditry, including Hassan Tawaye (Hassan the Rebel) and Ado Aliero, the notorious terrorist kingpin recently turban as a traditional ruler in Zamfara State but rescinded after an outcry by Nigerians, were featured.
But Information Minister, Lai Mohammed, said both Trust TV and the BBC would be sanctioned because the documentaries ‘gloried banditry.’
But since the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) does not have regulatory oversight over the BBC, the hammer could only fall on Trust TV.
The NBC, in a letter to Trust TV dated August 3, 2022, which was signed by its Director General, Balarabe Shehu Illela, said the fine was imposed on Trust TV because its broadcast of the said documentary contravened sections of the National Broadcasting Code.
In a statement, the management of Media Trust Group said, “While we are currently studying the Commission’s action and weighing our options, we wish to state unequivocally that as a television station, we believe we were acting in the public interest by shedding light on the thorny issue of banditry and how it is affecting millions of citizens of our country.
“The documentary traces the root of the communal tensions and systemic inadequacies which led to the armed conflict that is setting the stage for another grand humanitarian crisis in Nigeria. It presents insights into the intersection of injustice, ethnicity and bad governance as drivers of the conflict. It also aggregates voices of experts and key actors towards finding solutions, including those of the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, Senator Saidu Mohammed Dansadau, who hails from one of the worst hit communities in Zamfara State.”