On May 20, 2017, security operatives and officials of the Nasarawa State Urban Development Board (NUDB) demolished a structure hosting Breeze 99.9 FM, a private radio station based in Lafia, the State capital. The station is owened by Dr. Nawani Aboki.
Dr. Aboki said broadcast equipment worth N61 million (about US200,000) were destroyed in the demolition of the station aside the worth of the structure itself that had not been quantified.
Dr. Aboki alleged that the reason for the demolition was political and insisted that the incident was aimed at gagging the press in the state, adding that: “Due process was not followed by NUDB in effecting the demolition”.
Aboki who had earlier aired the news of an ongoing Labour strike in the state said his radio station was demolished a day after it was marked for demolition.
He specifically stated that his radio station was demolished because he did not belong to the same political party as the Nasarawa State Governor, Umaru Tanko Al-Makura.
He alleged that the Governor was also not comfortable with the fact that Breeze FM might not support his political ambition.
Aggrieved, Aboki lashed out: “We have the right to air the Labour strike news. We even begged the government to come and present its own side of the story but they declined. I want to assure him that what he thought he killed will remain, will come back and grow. Let him continue to do what he likes but his time is also coming to an end. We wish him well but we will meet in court. We must remain calm in this situation. Let’s not take laws into our hands; let us ensure that we follow due process and we all will meet in court.”
Sympathisers who tried to prevent security officials from carrying out the demolition exercise were dispersed by the security agents who shot sporadically into the air.
However, the Special Assistant to the Governor on Media and Publicity, Ahmed Tukur, said that radio station was not in any way targeted but that it was demolished for violating building regulations claiming that the station was among the five structures demolished.
He said that the structure was approved as a residential area and that the station’s mast was hazardous to people in the area.
Tukur said that the government was willing to approve Aboki’s application if he acquires an appropriate site.
He reiterated that about three different independent radio stations in the state reported the Labour strike and they were not affected by the demolition action.
Among the properties demolished are; shops at the Police A division and a house belonging to the elder brother of the Governor.
The Nasarawa State Chapter of the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ), the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), and the Nigerian Senate among others condemned the action.
The State Chairman of the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ) Dogo Shama described the act of the government as an “open attack on the Press, aimed at depriving citizens of the right to balanced reports. He promised to liaise with the national body and take appropriate action on the matter.
The state NUJ chapter also condemned the unwarranted destruction of the radio station and called for an unconditional apology and the immediate relocation of the station by the Nasarawa State Government. It also asked the government to compensate the radio station.