The Senate on Sunday condemned the recent demolition of Breeze 99.9 FM, a private radio station based in Lafia, the Nasarawa State capital.
Sen. Suleiman Adokwe, Chairman, Senate Committee on National Orientation and Information, who led other senators to the demolished structure, described the development as “saddening and unfortunate”.
Newsmen report that the Nasarawa Urban Development Board pulled down the building on May 20, citing alleged violation of land approval laws.
It also claimed that its action became necessary because the station’s facilities posed a health hazard to residents living close to it.
The management of the outfit has, however, rejected such claims, and accused government of hitting the station “for political reasons”.
The station’s Executive Director, Dr. Nawani Aboki, told newsmen recently that government was angry that the media outfit had consistently given voices to all shades of opinions, especially since state government workers went on strike.
Adokwe said that the visit was to commiserate with the outfit’s management, relay the Senate’s condemnation of the demolition, and demonstrate support and solidarity.
“We condemn this action in its totality. It is reprehensible. It is uncalled for and undemocratic. That is why we are here. This trend should not be accepted in a democratic setting,” he said.
Adokwe said that he was particularly shocked at the speed with which the demolition took place.
“The demolition was too sudden; it is an illegality that failed to follow due process as stipulated by the constitution of the country with regards to demolition, reclaiming of land and related issues.
“We expect the Nasarawa State Government to promote private enterprises like this. Government ought to promote and support investors, instead of destroying their structures and facilities. This must not continue.
“Information should be disseminated to people without any hindrance. Destroying a harmless radio station is denying the people the right to freedom of information
“There are sufficient laws to take care of illegal broadcasting. The constitution is very clear on the procedures. Adequate notices are issued and where there are compensations to be made, they are made,” he said.
The Senator advised the Nasarawa State Government to stop gagging the press, and stressed the need to allow the opposition to co-exist, thrive and express themselves in accordance with the law.
“A citizen of the state set up an enterprise that offered employment. The least government can do is to encourage the individual to expand Breeze FM as a pride of the state, and not to truncate the effort of a young investor.
“Suppressing the enterprising skills of young men is abominable. Nasarawa State belongs to everybody. It should not be a place where some people are treated like strangers. No one will accept that,” he said.