Nigeria’s broadcast regulator has fined Multi choice Nigeria Ltd, part of a South African pay-TV group, and others 5 million naira ($12,013) each for airing a BBC report that it said “glorified the activities of bandits and undermines national security.” The National Broadcasting Commission said in a statement on Wednesday that the outlets had until Aug. 30 to pay. It also fined local channel Trust TV, part of the group that owns the prominent Daily Trust newspaper, for its own report on banditry.
“This story is overwhelmingly in the public interest and the BBC stands by its journalism,” the BBC said in an emailed statement. Multi choice had no immediate comment. Armed criminals, known locally as bandits, have kidnapped thousands of Nigerians over the past two years. Free speech and democracy activists in Africa’s most populous country have raised the alarm over what they say are erosions to freedom of expression in recent years, including last year’s ban on social media platform Twitter. Nigeria has a presidential election in February in which deteriorating security nationwide could play a prominent role.