IPC’s Centre for Safety and Protection of Journalists (I-CSPJ) has described the recent closure of Africa Independent Television, AIT, and Raypower FM operations in Port Harcourt by the Rivers State Government as worrisome action unacceptable and a violation of the rule of law.
The media organisation in a statement signed by Melody Akinjiyan, Press Freedom Officer, IPC on its official page on Sunday, 3rd September, 2023, announced that the State Government shut down its operations through contracted telecommunications engineers accompanied by armed security operatives.
“The contractors disconnected the wave guard from the antenna on the mast while riggers were seen dismantling the mast. Also, bulldozers were deployed to demolish the Transmitter Complex at DAAR Communications PLC Broadcast Centre,” it said.
According to Mr. Lanre Arogundade, Executive Director of IPC, the closure of the media outlet is another attempt to stifle press freedom in the country warning that the state government should immediately stop actions towards that course.
“The Rivers State Government should come open with any grievance it may have against AIT/Raypower in the State and refrain from further arbitrary self-help like the demolition”, he said.
Arogundade tben advised the Rivers State Government to allow AIT and Raypower FM to continue its operations and seek legal redress if it believes the media outfits have committed any offence.
Similarly, IPC Executive Director has also decried the reported threat on the life of veteran journalist, Ikem Okuhu, who was on Friday, August 25, 2023 accosted by two men who introduced themselves as officers of the Nigerian Police, Enugu State Command at the burial of the father-in-law of his younger brother at Umabor, Eha Alumona Nsukka.
Giving details of what happened during a press briefing in Lagos, Okuhu said: “I was at Umabor for the burial of the father-in-law of my younger brother and I had gone out to make a phone call when one of these people walked up to me and started a casual conversation, but soon said he had an order to bring me to Enugu. He said he was a police officer and that somebody had written a petition against me. My inquiry as regards who wrote the petition and what the issue was about did not yield anything, as he was soon joined by another man who also claimed he was a policeman. When I asked them for identification, they refused and instead, tried to herd me to their vehicle.”
I-CSPJ is deeply worried about the situation of veteran journalist Ikem Okuhu and hereby calls on the Nigerian government and the security agencies to ensure that he is not harmed in any way.
I-CSPJ enjoins anyone who may be aggrieved over the reports by the journalist to seek redress through legal channels instead of attempting to resort to extra-judicial self-help.