The Centre for Safety and Protection of Journalists (CSPJ) has expressed concerns over the closure of the Africa Independent Television (AIT) and Raypower FM operations in Port Harcourt, Rivers State.
The closure was done by the Rivers State government over the weekend.
The authorities of the media organisation on its official page on Sunday, September 3, 2023, said the Rivers government shut down its operations through contracted telecommunications engineers, accompanied by armed security operatives.
The management wrote, “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.”
The executive director of CSPJ, Mr Lanre Arogundade, said the act was an attempt to stifle press freedom in the country.
He said, “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 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 committed any offence.
In another development, the executive director of the centre has decried the reported threat on the life of Mr Ikem Okuhu, a versatile journalist. Okuhu was on Friday, August 25, 2023, reportedly accosted by two men who introduced themselves as officers of the Nigeria Police, Enugu State Command, at the burial of one of his in-laws, at Umabor, Eha Alumona, Nsukka.
Quoting Okuhu, “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.”
“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.
“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.”
Enugu State police public relations officer DSP Daniel Ndukwe was reported by AriseTV to have said that the state police command did not send any operatives to arrest Okuhu.