Nigerian media group wants State radio station re-opened

Lagos- Nigeria (PANA) -- Media Rights Agenda (MRA), a Nigerian media advocacy group, has condemned the closure of Bayelsa State-owned radio station, Glory FM, and the arrest of its General Manager, Brighten Sorgwe.
It also called for the immediate reopening of the radio station shut down earlier in the week on the orders of the federal government, as part of ongoing efforts to force the State governor, Diepreye Alamieyesigha, to relinquish office and return to London for trial.
The governor last month jumped bail in London, where he was standing trial for money laundering charges, and sneaked into Nigeria, a conduct President Olusegun Obasanjo has described as "shameful.
" But an MRA statement described the shutting of the radio station and arrest of the its official as undemocratic.
It also demanded the withdrawal of troops deployed to the station.
"There can be no justification for the federal government's action.
Such high-handedness has no place in a democracy.
It is a violation of the right to freedom of expression as enshrined in the Nigeria n constitution and international human rights instruments to which Nigeria is a state party," MRA said.
"We see this as a very unfortunate development for the media in Nigeria, particularly as it is happening supposedly in a democracy," the statement added.
   The group alleged that the government action was to give it an upper hand in the propaganda war between it and the oil-rich Bayelsa State government since the federal government-owned and controlled Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) has become the only broadcast outlet operating in the State and is airing only news and views supportive of the federal government position on the dispute.
It noted that regardless of how right the federal government might feel on the dispute, it must ensure that its action conformed with the constitution, and that the media did not bear the brunt of the disagreement.

03 december 2005 22:04:00

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