NIGERIA: Confusion over BBC, VOA Hausa Services

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 There was confusion in some parts of the north yesterday when radio listeners of the BBC and VOA Hausa Services were unable to tune to either of the stations forcing the bellief that the military clampdown on the Nigerian media had been extended to include the foreign radio stations.

However, spokesmen for the Ministry of Information and the Nigerian Broadcasting Corporation dismissed the notion of a clampdown on the BBC and VOA Hausa Services, saying there was no directive to that effect.

They added that both services are not even regulated by the NBC and saw no reason why both stations with millions of listeners in the north should be taken off the air.

But the explanation offered by the ministry and NBC failed to allay concerns, as a resident in Yola, Adamawa State, Mr David Molomo, who was unable to tune in to any of the radio stations said the development had hampered the free flow of information as expected in a democratic setting like ours.

Molomo said it was not  healthy for Nigerians hence the need for the federal government to direct the military authorities to retrace their steps.

Another resident, Yakubu Musa, described the incident as unfortunate, saying it was sad that government would go to this length of blocking air waves in the name of fighting Boko Haram.

Musa added that they did that to the print media and are now extending similar treatment to the broadcast media without any concrete reasons. “Government needs to realise that the media are partners in the fight and must be carried along not harassed.

“Honestly, with what is going on the era of military clampdown is back and will be resisted by the media in the country and the entire globe,” he maintained.

Another respondent, Bilkisu Bello Altine after expressing surprise after she had tried several times to tune her radio searching for both stations yesterday was told that NBC and the military had blocked the air waves through a coding system.

Altine said even if the military was clamping down on the media as a strategy to fight terrorism, at least some explanation to teeming Nigerians was of utmost importance because a well informed society was necessary for societal development.

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