The Zamfara State Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) governorship candidate, Dr. Dauda Lawal, on Sunday, raised the alarm that press freedom is under assault in the State, criticizing the decision of the Governor Bello Matawalle-led government for unlawfully targeting and victimizing media organizations in the state for covering a PDP political event.
Lawal in a statement issued by the Dauda Lawal Media Office in Gusau, berated the Matawalle-led government for attacking the media, stressing that the governor’s desperation manifested itself in a ‘draconian style’.
Recall that the Zamfara State government in a statement on Saturday, signed by the State’s Commissioner for Information, ordered the shutting down of Federal Government and privately owned media stations namely Radio Nigeria, Pride FM Gusau, NTA Gusau, Gamji Television, Vision FM, and Al’umma TV.
But the PDP governorship candidate while condemning the action in statement said: “It is with great dismay that we condemn the unlawful action of Zamfara state government aimed at stifling the freedom of the press. It is very unfortunate, to say the least.
“The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its governorship candidate, Dr. Dauda Lawal is using this medium to strongly condemn Governor Matawalle’s order to shut down some selected Federal Government and privately owned Media stations in the state; NTA Gusau, Radio Nigeria Pride FM Gusau, Gamji TV and FM Gusau, and Al’umma TV Gusau.
“This is a draconian style applied to gag press freedom simply for covering opposition parties’ political activities in compliance with the NBC Act and Electoral act as amended 2022.
“The NBC Act and Electoral act as amended 2022 has obliged all broadcast stations to give equal access to political parties in the build up to the 2023 general election. This singular action of Governor Matawalle has exposed the type of liability Zamfara State is saddled with as Governor, a Governor who is ignorant of the laws of our land is a further confirmation to all and sundry that indeed Zamfara State is on autopilot.
“We are delighted that in a statement issued today, The National Broadcasting Commission, NBC, has faulted the APC led government of Zamfara State for arbitrarily closing the media stations.
“NBC has further warned the state government of the gravity of the illegality and requested it to expeditiously reverse the directive and apologize to the people of the state.
“Zamfara State APC and Governor Matawalle should understand that broadcast stations are regulated by the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) while campaign and election activities are regulated by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), which has given the approval on October 12th for governorship campaigns to commence.
“For us in the PDP, it is not surprising that Gov. Bello Matawalle is not aware of the limits of his powers and doesn’t understand the function of the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC). A Governor who parades falsified academic records as a constitutional requirement for public office couldn’t have behaved otherwise.”
The Dauda Lawal Media office further stressed the importance of press freedom in ensuring free and fair election, protection of citizen rights and freedom. “Above all the press serves as a watchdog on power. Governor Matawalle’s attempts to throttle the independence of the press will be resisted by all men and women of good conscience.”