It has become incumbent for us at Jay FM Jos to issue this statement as a follow up to our Press Conference of 2nd March, 2019, and hopefully, an update to our indefatigable fans, followers, listeners, and supporters on the status of the station and the state of our struggle.
Importantly, we want to use the momentous opportunity of this Press Release to call on the National Broadcasting Commission, NBC, the regulator of broadcasting in Nigeria, to free itself from political manipulation by people who wield power in high places, and those who have conscripted themselves in the army of the enemies of liberty, justice, and freedom in Nigeria.
You would recall that Jay FM Jos was shut down under controversial circumstances on 1st March, 2019 by the NBC. In a letter signed by its Jos Zonal Director, 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, and 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 glamourizing Alhaji Atiku Abubakar the Presidential Candidate of the People’s Democratic Party, PDP in that election, and broadcasting divisive content in respectively.
While 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, when Jay FM was involved in any form of breach or improper conduct that would warrant a heavy and unfair sanction as a shutdown, especially as it amounts to double jeopardy to issue punishment a second time for the same offence.
You would also recall that a day before the shutdown on Thursday 28th February, 2019, at about 3:00pm, 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, hence 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. On 1st March, 2019, the next day, the Station Manager reported to the DSS and was questioned about the robust coverage Jay FM gave to the impasse in Jos North Local Government Area when results of February 23rd Presidential and National Assembly Elections were cancelled in Tudun Wada/Kabong Ward which handed the All Progressives Congress, APC, an advantage, and the inability of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to announce election results in the Northern Senatorial Zone of Plateau State. The Station Manager was later released and asked to return with the Managing Director by 5pm.
While our engagement with the DSS was civil, courteous, and respectful, it is doubtful if there is no nexus at all between the NBC, DSS, and the shutdown of our station.
On Monday 18th March, 2019, we were invited to a meeting at the National Headquarters of the 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 indicates that powers that be in the presidency used by the powers in Plateau State insisted that the Jay FM Jos must remain shut down.
While it is never our intention, style, or preoccupation to be confrontational with our regulators, we have arrived at a crossroad, where we are constrained and left with no option but to seek legal redress in a court of law which is the final and only hope of the downtrodden and persecuted masses of our country, in the expectation that we would find justice there where the NBC and its manipulators have denied us.
While calling on the local and international press, and indeed all sister stations to stand with us as we fight this injustice which threatens the foundations of “the fourth estate of the realm”, 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.
We also want to thank the Chairman, Executive Members, and indeed the entire members of Olive Tree Citizens’ Rights Initiative for offering free legal aide to us. We recognize your support and kindness. We are confident that your labour shall not be in vain.
Our appreciation also goes to the Nigeria Union of Journalists for their concern and solidarity. May the bond that ties us together allow us to stand with one another at all times. Special mention must be made of Mr. Jonathan Rozen of The Committee to Protect Journalists for telling our story to world, taking it to different continents and countries we would not have ordinarily reached. Thank you for the solidarity.
While it may seem that the Broadcasting Organizations of Nigeria, BON, has no interest in our plight, judging by the deafening silence with which they responded to the situation we are confronted with, we are unperturbed, in the knowledge that while it may be Jay FM today, it may be another station’s turn tomorrow to swallow the bitter pill of injustice and persecution.
To our supporters and thousands of online followers, we owe you a debt of gratitude for the solidarity, love, and concern you have shown us throughout this dark period. We appreciate every one of you in ways you cannot begin to imagine. You are our strength and you give us the courage to soldier on. We also wish to apologize for persuading you not to demonstrate your dissatisfaction through the vehicle of protests and mass action against the NBC believing that an administrative solution was better. If we had allowed protests to go on, you would have marched on the wrong target, as the real forces behind our situation are lurking in shadows professing undying devotion to plausible deniability.
Once again, we ask of you to be calm and law abiding while we wait for our day in court. Be rest assured, that we will not hesitate to communicate you as soon as we have a date for commencement of hearing. We would be highly elated to see you in court with us.
Thank you.
Clinton Garuba