Rights Group Decry One Year Shutdown of Radio Station in Bayelsa

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Emmanuel Addeh in Yenagoa
A human rights group, the Civil Liberties Organisation (CLO), on Tuesday protested the closure of Creek 106.5 FM located in Yenagoa, the Bayelsa State capital, for over a year.

In a letter to the management and board of the Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria (FRCN) over the shutdown, Chief Nengi James, the CLO Chairman in the state, said the rights of the people to information had been impinged upon by the action of the federal-owned radio station.

Creek FM, which started broadcast in the state in 2014 closed down its operations over 12 months ago over alleged inability to secure a befitting accommodation and operational logistics after the state government withdrew its support.

The CLO wondered why the state government should be responsible for the operations of a radio station owned by the federal government, describing the shutdown as unacceptable.
In the petition addressed to the Director-General of the FRCN, the rights group accused the board and management of over-reliance on state governments for its operation and wondered how the needed balance and fairness in its operation will be achieved with that kind of arrangement.

It said the shutdown in the last one year was denying the people of Bayelsa State access to news and programmes on the station, particularly the network news at 7a.m. and 4p.m.
While giving a 14-day ultimatum to resume broadcast or face a stronger petition to President Muhammadu Buhari,  the body said it was worried by the FRCN lackadaisical attitude to its core mandate.

“We are worried and wondering why the management of the station would have to rely on the Bayelsa State Government to continue to provide temporary accommodation for its operations in Yenagoa.
“What about the budgetary allocation and the funds accruing from commercial operations?”, the CLO queried.
The petition noted that such monetary assistance from the state governments was capable of eroding the independence of the station and raise a lot of ethical issues.

“The implications of this gesture on fairness and independence could only be imagined,” it said, adding that it was a ploy to undermine the people of the state and disconnect the region from the activities of the federal government.

“It is unacceptable and would be resisted, more so that the state government has since allocated land for the construction of the South-south zonal headquarters and the broadcasting house of the FM station in Yenagoa.
“We also  frown at the temporary relocation of the zonal headquarters to Port Harcourt, Rivers State since 2013 and we challenge the FRCN to make budgetary provisions for the immediate construction of its building on the land provided by the Bayelsa State government,” the CLO said.