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Dokpesi to Kawu: Resign as NBC DG over corruption scandal

By Adekunle Adebayo, Abuja

Amid harassment and intimidation of DAAR Communications Plc, owner of African Independent Television (AIT), the Founder and Chairman Emeritus of the company, High Chief Raymond Dokpesi on Thursday asked the Director-General of National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), Isiaq Kawu to resign his position over corruption scandal hanging on his neck,

Dokpesi, whom his company has been having running battle with its regulator – NBC, was reacting to the alleged persecution of his company, alleging that his company is being persecuted through NBC on the instructions from the Presidency because he remains a member of opposition political party.

The media mogul, who stated this at a press conference which held at the company’s corporate headquarters in Abuja, wondered why NBC couldn’t distinguish DAAR Communications Plc. since he had resigned from running the affairs of the company since 2014 when he joined partisan politics.

He said the NBC DG should have also done the same thing, having participated in governorship primaries in Kwara state on the platform of All Progressives Congress (APC) and considering corruption scandal he’s presently embroiled in.

“I, however, cannot ignore that our regulator, the NBC today is under the leadership of a partisan politician, Ishaq Moddibo Kawu, the Director General of the NBC. He was an aspirant of the APC for the governorship of Kwara State before the recently concluded general elections in Nigeria.

“So when one juxtaposes and considers all the above with the fact that the Director General of the NBC, Ishaq Moddibo Kawu, was dragged to court by the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) on a 12-count-charge bordering on fraud in the digital switchover project of the Federal Government and that that members of his management at NBC have testified against him openly in court, it begs the question: can this man remain independent of external and clandestine influences?

“Can the scandal he is embroiled in be used to influence his performance as a regulator? Is it possible that he will go the extra mile over and beyond the powers of the NBC to gain favour from politicians and powers who may have influence on whether to retain him as DG and offer him a soft landing on the charges before him?

“Is he a fit and proper person with the interest of the industry at heart to lead the regulatory body? 18.​He too must know that the right thing for him to do is to step down from the leadership of the NBC at least until such a time that he is acquitted of the charges against him.

“Do I need to tell him the right thing to do? Can the broadcasters he is regulating freely raise these issues against him as a public figure? I make bold to unequivocally call on the Federal Government of Nigeria to immediately relieve him of his duty at the NBC to allow the industry to breathe fresh air.

“Is he in a position to regulate freely and fairly? Is he devoid of partisan interest in regulating the industry? The fact that he lost his primaries and returned to resume as DG of the NBC is in itself despicable,” he said.

Dokpesi told journalists at the briefing that he had received reports of several media personalities under AIT been trailed by unidentified gunmen while exiting the office premises following demolition of security post and perimeter fence at his company’s headquarters.

SAHEL STANDARD had reported how Federal Capital Territory Administration demolished parts of the structures housing the company in the capital city.

Speaking further, 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.

He lamented the imposition of N500m in licensing fees to private broadcasting organisations while government-owned broadcasters paid N10m, Broadcasting Organisation of Nigeria (BON) will not rescind its decision in rejecting the outrageous fees.

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.”

DAAR Communication boss 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.”

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