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Update: BON Condemns Destruction of AIT Property by Rivers State Govt

The Broadcasting Organizations of Nigeria (BON) has outrightly condemned the wanton destruction of the multi-billion Naira equipment of the DAAR Communications PLC., the owners of African Independent Television (AIT), situated in Port Harcourt, by the Rivers State Government. Against the backdrop of this unhealthy development, BON described the action as executive lawlessness and flagrant violation of the rule of law, direct assault on the Nigerian media and ominous signal to democracy.

A statement signed by Dr. Yemisi Bamgbose, the Executive Secretary of BON, noted that the demolition carried out by the agent of Rivers State Government under the watch of security agents was not only calculated to inflict devastating injury on DAAR Communications in particular, but was also a brazen exhibition of dictatorial power and employment of crooked method aimed at silencing the media. The nation’s apex broadcasting body noted that the dispute on the said land between DAAR Communications and Rivers State Government is still pending before a Court of competent jurisdiction.

“It is unbelievable that Rivers State Government will at this time compound the challenges posed by the sudden death of the founder of DAAR Communications, late High Chief Raymond Dokpesi. We call on the federal Government to wade into the matter of deliberate violation of the rule of law by branches of government using Federal Government apparatus to intimidate the media and their tendencies for disregarding the order of the Court of the land. We call on the Government of Rivers State to stop the harassment of the DAAR Communications group and allow the Court to determine the legality of the matter.”

Read also: Workers Stranded As Rivers Govt Demolishes AIT’s Mast, Transmission House

In another development, the society of Nigerian Broadcasters (SNB) has also reacted to the “malicious” demolition of the media equipment of AIT Port-Harcourt by the State Government. The broadcasting group vehemently condemned the act. It stated that it was an embarrassing affront against the Nigerian Judiciary and also a barbaric move that is least expected of a democratically elected government. This was disclosed in a statement by Festus Kehinde, the Coordinating Chairman of SNB.

They noted that DAAR Communications deserves to be adequately compensated and,  so, called on the state government to do the necessary.  The group said the action of the Rivers State Government is capable of compromising the reputation of Nigeria at the global level.

SNB emphasized the need for the government to exhibit empathy to media houses rather than aggravating the financial crisis, noting that businesses are today facing humongous infrastructure deficit exacerbated by economic headwinds.

Recall that BON, early this year, had appealed to the immediate past Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, to halt the proposed demolition of Daar Communications Plc. complex in Port-Harcourt. BON Chairman, John Ugbe, had appealed to the governor to use his executive power to avert the proposed demolition of the facility by the ministry of works in the state.

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