The Broadcasting Organisation of Nigeria (BON) yesterday condemned the shutdown, by the Rivers State Government, of operations of Daar Communications Plc, owners of Africa Independent Television (AIT) and Raypower FM, in Port Harcourt.
Executive Secretary, BON, Dr Yemisi Bamgbose, in a statement, described the action as “executive lawlessness, flagrant violation of the rule of law and ominous signal to democracy.”
She called on the federal government to wade into the matter.
“The demolition carried out by the agent of Rivers State Government under the watch of security agents is not only a demonstration of subjugation calculated to inflict devastating injury on Daar Communications in particular but also a brazen exhibition of dictatorial power and employment of crocked method aimed at silencing the media.
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“It is unbelievable that Rivers State Government will at this time compound the challenges posed by the sudden death of the founder of Daar Communications, Late High Chief Raymond Dokpesi.
“We call on the Federal Government to wade into this matter of deliberate violation of the rule of law by branches of government using Federal Government apparatus to intimidate the media and their tendencies for disregarding the order of the Court of the land.
“We call on the Government of Rivers State to stop the harassment of the Daar Communications group and allow the Court to determine the legality of the matter,” the organization said.
Meanwhile, the management of Daar Communications, yesterday said it was working to restore the services as soon as possible.
In a statement, the company said: “We would like to assure our valued audience that they can still enjoy AIT’s and Raypower through various alternative platforms, including DStv, Gotv, StarTimes, and the FreeTV platform and the AIT and Raypower Apps online. Furthermore, we are actively working to restore the services as soon as possible.”
Yesterday, the International Press Centre Centre for Safety and Protection of Journalists (I-CSPJ) also described the closure of the company’s operations as unacceptable and a violation of the rule of law.
Melody Akinjiyan, IPC Press Freedom Officer, in a statement, quoted the Executive Director Lanre Arogundade, as saying the action was an attempt to stifle press freedom in the country.