The International Press Centre (IPC) has said it is concerned about the recent closure of some media outlets by the Zamfara State government.
The IPC described the action as unacceptable and a violation of the rule of law.
The Zamfara State government had ordered the closure of some media houses on the grounds that they were guilty of violating laws on journalism.
The affected media houses are Radio Nigeria, Pride FM Gusau, NTA Gusau, Gamji Television, Vision FM and Al Umma TV.
The Zamfara Information Commissioner, Ibrahim Dosara, disclosed that the government had directed the state Commissioner of Police to arrest all members of the press who attended an event organised by the governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the state, Dauda Lawal Dare, and ordered the closure of the media houses.
In a statement signed by IPC Programme Officer/Safety Desk Officer, Melody Lawal, IPC Executive Director, Lanre Arogundade, said the closure of the media outlets was another attempt to suppress press freedom in the country and warned that the government should submit to the rule of law and not be the prosecutor and judge in their case.
“This closure is an attempt by the Zamfara State government to suppress press freedom in the state. Instructing the police to arrest more members of the press for attending an event is worrying and a violation of the citizens’ right to information,” it said.
Arogundade advised the Zamfara State government to approach media regulators, who have the power to sanction or revoke the licences of media organisations that have violated journalism laws.
“It is not within the power of the governor or his agents, under whatever guise, to carry out such tasks as closing or sealing media houses. This should be condemned by all,” Arogundade said.
IPC called on the Federal Government of Nigeria and President Muhammadu Buhari to call Zamfara State Governor Bello Matawalle to order for acting outside his executive powers.
IPC also called on the Inspector General of Police to give all journalists and media outlets in Zamfara State and its environs the necessary protection as provided for in the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“There should be no disruptions or threats to the electoral processes as all Nigerians look forward to a smooth conduct of the 2023 elections,” Arogundade added.