Nigeria: Security Forces Close Radio And TV Stations Three Days Before State Elections

Regulation & Policy

Reporters Without Borders called on April 12th on the federal authorities to permit the reopening of two new, Lagos-based broadcast media, Link FM and GTV, which were abruptly closed by the security forces on 11 April 2007, three days before elections for state governors and state parliaments.

"Elections should be a time when the government takes more care than ever to respect the rule of law," the press freedom organisation said. "Instead, the security forces are sent without a warrant to shut down media that could be a nuisance during the polling. There is no justification for the enforced closure of Link FM and GTV, so the measure should be lifted and their personnel should be allowed to return to work."

Eight members of the security forces burst into the Link FM and GTV studios in the Lagos district of Ketu at about 6 p.m. (local time) on 11 April, ordering all the employees to leave and placing seals over the entrances. They said they were acting on "an order from above." The studios were still closed the following morning and staff were not allowed to enter. The two stations began broadcasting just a few weeks ago and their director, Stanley Okoye, said he did not know why they had suddenly been closed.

But a Lagos-based journalist told Reporters Without Borders that the federal government wanted to prevent the opposition from using the media to immediately broadcast the results provided by the observers it is deploying to polling stations throughout the country in an attempt to prevent the ruling party from rigging the 14 April elections.