RIGHTS GROUPS CONDEMN BAN OF DOCUMENTARY ON FUEL SUBSIDY
Two democracy inclined Non-governmental organizations – HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS' ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA) and the ABUJA WRITERS' FORUM [AWF] have collectively urged President Goodluck Jonathan to order the unbanning immediately of the 30 – minutes documentary by Mr. Ishaya Bako on the fuel subsidy scam titled “fuellingpoverty”.
Specifically, local media reported that the Nigerian government through the National Film and Video Censors Board [NFVCB], a federal agency which vets, classifies, and approves films and videos meant for distribution and exhibition in the country, has banned the airing and distribution of the documentary, 'Fueling Poverty', a 30-minute film which documents the monumental poverty in Nigeria and campaigns against corruption and greed in the country.
According to media report, NFVCB banned the distribution and exhibition of the documentary, saying that its contents “are highly provocative and likely to incite or encourage public disorder and undermine national security”.
The letter conveying the ban, warned the filmmaker [Mr. Ishaya Bako] against violating the order, saying “all relevant national security agencies are on the alert. A copy of this letter has been sent to the Director-General, Department of State Services and the Inspector General of Police for their information,” NFVCB reportedly cautioned.
But in a release made available to Journalists in Abuja, and jointly signed by the National Coordinator, of the HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS' ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA) Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko and the President of the ABUJA WRITERS' FORUM Dr. Emman Shehu, said the ban of the “innocuous and patriotic documentary”, amounts to a direct affront to media freedom and a direct message to Nigerians that the anti-graft war is over.
Citing the fundamental objectives and Directives principles of state policy in section 15(5) of the constitution which provides that 'the state shall abolish all corrupt practices and abuse of power', the Rights groups asked the federal government to reverse the draconian decision by the National film censors Board and instead commend the producers of the movie for contributing significantly to raise national consciousness and awareness on the urgent necessity for all good citizens to wage unrelenting war against corruption.
Besides, the Rights groups said the reported ban from circulation in Nigeria of the documentary titled “fueling poverty”, is a clear negation of section 39(1) of the 1999 constitution (as amended) which provides that “every person shall be entitled to freedom of expression, including freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart ideas and information without interference”.
The Groups said “It is sad that in the recent time, President Jonathan has allowed several ugly events that amount to direct affront to fundamental press freedom to happen under his watch. These brutal state sponsored confrontations against media freedoms must be reversed if this government is to benefit from the judgment t of history especially in the very strategic area of press freedoms”.