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Nigeria: How Opposition Views Landed FRCN, Liberty Radio in Trouble

Nigeria: How Opposition Views Landed FRCN, Liberty Radio in Trouble


Kaduna — Two radio stations based in Kaduna were few days ago fined for airing views of the opposition. The media outfits are Radio Nigeria, Kaduna and Liberty FM, a private owned radio station.
While the Nigerian Broadcasting Commission (NBC) said it sanctioned the two radio stations over unprofessional conduct, the media are expressing misgivings over the regulatory body's action. The two radio stations were reportedly slammed fines of N2 million each.
Radio Nigeria, Kaduna was fined over the airing of the controversial programme of former governor of Zamfara State, Senator Ahmed Sani Yarima. It would be recalled that while featuring on "Hanu da Yawa", a Hausa phone-in programme of radio Kaduna, Senator Yarima while responding to a question from a listener said promoters of All Progressive Congress (APC) including Former Head of State, General Muhammadu Buhari, Asiwaju Ahmed Bola Tinubu and former governor of Kano State, Malam Ibrahim Shekarau would protest in Abuja should INEC refuse to register APC.
While the two-hours programme was on, the Kaduna State Commissioner of Police, Olufemi Adenaike led armed mobile policemen to the station and arrested the former governor who is a serving senator representing Zamfara West Senatorial constituency. He was released after many hours in the police headquarters, Kaduna. The arrest generated uproar among the promoters of the APC.
Two days after the programme was aired, NBC queried the government owned radio station and afterwards, Sunday Trust gathered the regulatory body fined the management of the station.
On its part, Sunday Trust gathered that Liberty Radio was fined because of the comment of a listener on the good governance tour of the Federal Government. It was further gathered that the station was fined few days ago following a Hausa programme tagged "Ina Dalili". During the phone-in programme, a caller objected to the proposed visit of the good governance team to Kaduna State, describing it as a waste.
However media watchers are of the view that Liberty Radio has been on the watch list of the government following the disclosure of Governor Babangida Aliyu of Niger State on the radio. The Niger State governor disclosed that President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan signed a single term pact with Northern governors. The governor's revelation at the station tensed up the political landscape of the country.
Observers said the radio station which is owned by a-Kaduna based business mogul, Dr Ahmed Tijjani Ramallan since then had been on the watch list. The airing of the programme which was lifted by many newspapers made NBC to beam its searchlight on the station.
In his reaction, chairman of the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ, Kaduna State Chapter, Yusuf Idris said journalists are intermediaries who link the leadership and the followers and as such should not be deliberately put in the face of crossfire from both sides.
"NUJ cannot be satisfied with the issues of arrests, clampdown and intimidation from whatever quarters because journalists are messengers, who inform, educate, enlighten and entertain the society. In the course of our duty, we face various challenges but Nigerians must know what is going on around democracy.
"What NBC is doing is completely wrong. If they don't want people to express their views it should be in their rules and regulations that broadcast stations should not allow live phone-in- programmes. We are going back to the dark ages when people were not allowed to express their views and citizens have the right to express their opinions," he said.
A veteran broadcaster, Malam Abdulkarim Albashir said it was ridiculous for the radio station to be held responsible for statements credited to listeners in a live programme.
He said the ongoing repression which included the arrest and re-arrest of Leadership Newspaper reporters and editors and arrest of Al-mizan editor and reporter, showed that "Nigeria is returning back to dictatorship despite being in a democracy.
"What this indicates is that we are gradually returning to dictatorship. I enjoyed more press freedom with FRCN as a government media then than what I see now. Since I started journalism in 1974, I have not seen such an amazing thing happen in a democracy and it is not going to stop. Their intention is to cripple some radio stations and newspapers not towing their line," he said.
However when contacted, the zonal director of Radio Nigeria, Kaduna, Malam Ladan Saliu denied the report, saying they were only queried by the regulatory body.
"There was nothing like a fine, the following week of the phone-in programme, the NBC queried us demanding explanation on the Yarima programme. We replied and gave them all the answers. The NBC did that as a regulatory body of broadcast outfits in the country. This thing do happen in broadcasting organisations what matter is the sincerity of it," he said.
Reacting on the report that the anchor of the programme has been suspended, he said the presenter was only queried." Yes we queried him because he took his eyes off the ball and allowed the guest to make remarks that ordinarily he should have guided him. The query we issued him was normal in the civil service," he said in a telephone interview last night.
In a telephone interview, a management staff of Liberty Radio confirmed the slamming of the fine by NBC." They queried us and after our reply we were fined for N2 million. We are waiting for NBC now because when we complained that we cannot pay the fine, they constituted a committee to look into it. So now we are waiting," he said.
But acting head of media of NBC, Mrs Maimuna Jinaida in a statement said the commission did not sanction only Radio Nigeria, Kaduna and Liberty FM but that Adamawa Broadcasting Corporation and Gotel Radio Yola were also sanctioned for same reasons.
According to her, the NBC has noted with grave concern, a trend of unprofessional broadcasts on the airwaves and that the sanctions were part of efforts to ensure professional conducts.
While urging all stations to adhere strictly to the provisions of the broadcasting code and other laws regulating broadcasting in the country, she said the commission would impose stricter sanctions on violators.



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