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Battle against fake news: NBC slaps Arise TV N2m fine over fake report on Tinubu

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The National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) has fined Arise TV N2 million for airing a fake Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) probe on the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Ahmed Bola Tinubu.

Fedredsnews had earlier reported that Arise TV apologised on Sunday after reporting the Independent National Broadcasting Commission (INEC) was investigating Tinubu over alleged criminal forfeiture of money on offences bordering on narcotics and illicit drugs.

INEC at the weekend denied the statement on which Arise TV based its report.

Tinubu then petitioned NBC to sanction Arise News.

A statement by the Director of Media and Publicity of the council, Mr Bayo Onanuga in Abuja on Monday said that a petition signed by the Special Adviser, Media, Communications and Public Affairs of the PCC, Dele Alake and addressed to the NBC Director-General, Balarabe Shehu Ilelah accused the two television stations of breaching broadcast codes with their actions.

In the petition, Alake noted the purported indictment of Tinubu as reported and discussed on Arise News and Channels TV had already been cleared in correspondence between then Inspector General of Police Tafa Balogun and the US government.

“The case in question, which did not indict our candidate, has since been overtaken by events after interrogation and correspondences between then Inspector General of Police Tafa Balogun in 2003 and the United States government. The US Justice Department in a letter dated 4th February 2003, issued by the Lagos Consulate of the United States Embassy cleared our candidate. The letter was signed by Michael Bonner, the Consulate’s legal attache.

“The Campaign Council was therefore surprised that certain media houses, such as ARISE News and Channels TV among others, went ahead to transmit and broadcast issues purportedly indicating our candidate in violation of section 3,3 I of the Code which says that:

“The Broadcaster shall (a) Ensure that any information given in a programme in whatever form is accurate.

“We believe that the operators of the stations, by their professional standing, should have access to research platforms to verify information before dishing it to the public,” the petition read.

The PCC further accused both stations of using the already cleared document in their interviews of Festus Keyamo SAN and spokesman of the opposition PDP respectively.

Both stations, the petition said, went further to broadcast a fake letter in circulation, purportedly issued by the Independent National Electoral Commission, stating that the electoral body was investigating Tinubu.

“Notwithstanding the broadcast of the falsehood, these stations went ahead to transmit and circulate a fake letter insinuating that the Independent National Electoral Commission INEC has initiated an investigation of the APC Presidential candidate premised on the fake letter in circulation.

“Section 5.1.2 states that ‘The Broadcaster shall present news as factual and in correct and fair manner without (a) Distortion, Exaggerations or Misrepresentation.

“Section 5.1.3 further states that ‘Fake News is prohibited’.

“The fake INEC letter has been proven to be fake and this breach is tantamount to disinformation.”

The APC Presidential Campaign Council listed other infractions against these stations which it said has been known to carry fake reports against Tinubu.

The PCC asked the NBC to invoke the appropriate sanctions against these television stations.

“Our Presidential candidate was vilified and denigrated as an indicted offender and law breaker in the US court case by these stations during their broadcasts in the last week.

“Section 3.1.2 of the Nigeria Broadcasting Code also states that-

‘The Broadcaster shall not transmit any programme, programme promotion, community service announcement or station identity which is likely in any circumstance to provoke or perpetuate in a reasonable person intense dislike, serious contempt or severe ridicule against a person or groups of people..

“For the effect of reference of powers to sanction erring broadcasters, The Code states in Chapter One, Section 1.1 (h) ‘The Power to establish and disseminate the code is derived from the provisions of Section 2 (1) (h) of the NBC Act, which is its enabling law.

“We hereby request the National Broadcasting Commission to sanction the offending Stations in the name of justice and in protection of the rights of our candidate as well as avoidance of future reoccurrence,” Alake said in the petition.

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