Shutdown: Jos radio station drags NBC to court
Jay FM, a Jos-based private radio station has taken legal action against the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) over its prolonged shutdown by the commission.
Mr Clinton Garuba, Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of Jay FM made the disclosure on Thursday in a statement in Jos.
Garuba said that the case against NBC had been filed at Federal High Court sitting in Jos.
The MD said that it became necessary to seek justice against the regulatory body, alleging that NBC had submitted itself to manipulations by some highly- placed power players.
“It is instructive at this juncture to announce that we have since filed a suit against the NBC in the Jos Division of the Federal High Court.
“We urge the press and all lovers of freedom and liberty in the world to beam their searchlights on this case as it would be a litmus test to the right to freedom of the press.
“The regulatory body in communicating the directive to shut down the station believed to have been handed down from above, the NBC failed to give one instance from the last sanction of 18th February, 2019 to 1st March, 2019 the shutdown day.
“NBC failed to explain how Jay FM was involved in any form of breach or improper conduct that would warrant a heavy and unfair sanction as a shutdown.
“This action amounts to double jeopardy to issue punishment a second time for the same offence,” he stated.
Garuba called on the NBC to free itself from political manipulation by people who wield power in high places.
According to him, the people in high places have conscripted themselves in the army of the enemies of liberty, justice, and freedom in Nigeria.
He recalled that “On Monday 18th March, 2019, we were invited to a meeting at NBC in Abuja to discuss the circumstances surrounding the shutdown of the station and way forward.
“The meeting which was entirely enveloped by the essence of cordiality was genuinely targeted at an amicable resolution.
“At the end, the commission made a commitment to reopen the station within the week, that is, between 18th and 23rd March, 2019.
“However, information available to us indicate that powers that be in the presidency used by the powers in Plateau insisted that the Jay FM Jos must remain shut down,” he added.
The MD said that Jay FM Jos was controversially shut down on 1st March, 2019 by the NBC.
He stated that the letter signed by Jos Zonal Director of the commission alleged that the station’s continued broadcast may lead to break down of law and order.
“Referring to two instances when the station was sanctioned few days to the 2019 Presidential Elections, the first being a N100, 000 (One Hundred Thousand Naira) fine on 16th February, 2019 for airing a news commentary titled “Does Buhari Deserve a Second Term?” written by Chris Gyang, a listener.
“The second being a warning on 18th February, 2019 for airing a news sound bite by Bishop David Abioye charging his followers on how they should vote.
“The commission accused Jay FM of glamourising Atiku Abubakar, the Presidential Candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP in that election and broadcasting divisive content respectively.
“You would also recall that a day before the shutdown on Thursday 28th February, 2019, at about 3:00 p.m., operatives of the Department of State Services, DSS, stormed our premises and demanded that the Station Manager Mr. Mangna Wamyil follows them to their office.
“Being that the station manager was not available at that time, they insisted that a senior staff goes with them.
“They took the Head of Engineering Mr Ojingwa Oji, who was eventually released around 5pm the same day on the condition that the station manager reports to their office the following day at 10:30am,” he narrated.
When the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) contacted Mr Onoja Igomu, NBC Zonal Director in Jos, he said that his office was not aware of the court case.