Nigeria's Authorities Are Reported To Have Destroyed Breeze FM's Premises

Nigerian state authorities in Nassarawa went ahead and demolished Breeze FM's office and transmitter. The demolishing carried on with the assistance of police who dispersed the crowd that had gathered to apparently try and stop the demolition by shooting in the air.

Reasons given for the demolition by Adamu Sule, Managing Director of the Nassarawa State Urban Development Board, is that Breeze FM did not have the approval to "operate in a residential area". Sule further added that the radio station was sent a notification beforehand of the scheduled demolition according to some reports.


Breeze FM demolition
Breeze FM demolition by Nassarawa State authorities. | African Spotlight on Twitter

The demolition has been condemned by the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ).

"Demolishing a radio station's office and equipment in retaliation for its coverage would be censorship in its bluntest and most violent form," said CPJ West Africa Representative Peter Nkanga.

According to CPJ, on17 May 2017 a letter was sent to Breeze FM by Sunday A. Abason who is the board's assistant General Manager. In the letter Abason is said to have written to BReeze FM saying that "You are hereby directed to submit forthwith an application for Planning Permit from the Board, if you wish to continue using the property for whatever purpose."

CPJ's Nkanga has called on authorities in Nigeria's Nassarawa state to take all possible measures to return Breeze FM to the air.

Breeze FM Director Nawani Aboki told CPJ he received the board's letter on May 18, and that he went to the board's office the following day to submit the application and building plans for approval. Officials at the board refused to receive the application on the grounds that board employees were on strike. "Yet the board's officials, who are striking, went and marked the station for demolition that same May 19, and carried out the demolition on May 20 by 8 a.m.," Aboki said.

Aboki believes that the demolition is because he does not belong to the ruling All Progressives Congress party in Nigeria and because the station aired a live discussion to mark the May 1 Nigerian national holiday of Workers' Day, in which invited guests and callers criticized the government for not paying state workers' salaries, according to media reports.

Breeze FM only started broadcasting from February 2017.

That Breeze FM did not comply with regulations on what they can use their premises for is a matter that could be handled legally and through following all the required procedures. Furthermore, to that end, the authorities could have confiscated the broadcasting equipment and transmitter until the said approvals were granted. A demolition sounds like an extreme measure for something that could be resolved by applications, paperwork, processes and legally.

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