NIGERIA: Intelligence agents raid private TV over political program

APRIL 17, 2007
Posted April 27, 2007

African Independent Television
Ray Power FM


Agents of the presidential State Security Service (SSS), backed by police, raided the studios of the private African Independent Television (AIT) in the capital Abuja, pulled a paid political program off the air and seized tapes of all commercially sponsored programs that were scheduled that day, according to media reports. Officials also shut down for an hour AIT’s sister radio station, Ray Power FM, general manager of AIT’s Abuja office Mac Amarere told CPJ.

SSS spokesman Ado Muazu was quoted as saying that the sponsored political program had “security implications,” according to the private daily ThisDay. The paid program addressed the performance of outgoing President Olusegun Obasanjo’s administration, Amarere said.

Shortly before the raid, officials of Nigeria’s National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) visited the station and ordered the broadcast stopped, alleging it was seditious, according to Amarere. NBC officials later warned the station not to air the program again or face “serious sanctions,” according to him.

The raid on AIT came two days after an unsolved fire destroyed the building housing the radio and television transmitters of AIT and Ray Power FM in the commercial city of Lagos, according to news reports. The stations were off the air for five days, Ray Power FM Abuja general manager Gbenga Mike Aruleba told CPJ. Authorities had yet to determine the cause of the fire, but the station could not rule out the possibility that it was deliberate, Amarere told CPJ.