Niger: Radio Station Shut Down for Broadcasting Military Brutalities

Regulation & Policy

Sahara FM, a privately-owned radio station based in Agadez, the largest city in the northern part of Niger, was on April 22, 2008, shut down indefinitely by the media regulator, the High Communications Council (CSC) for allegedly “inciting ethnic hatred and undermining the morale of the Army”.

Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA)’s correspondent reported that the closure followed a complaint by the authorities over broadcast of testimonies of victims of military brutalities on Sahara FM between April 13 and April 17. Several of the victims claimed in a series of interviews, that they had suffered brutalities at the hands of Nigerien soldiers.

The complaint was filed by the Agadez Governor and Commissioner of Police and on April 18, Raliou Ahmed Assaleh, Director of Sahara FM and correspondent for Radio France International (RFI) in Agadez, was summoned to Niamey to answer the accusations

The soldiers had been deployed in Agadez’s region to curb the ongoing rebellion being waged by the Tuareg’s Movement of Nigeriens for Peace (MNJ), more than a year ago.

The CSC, Niger’s media regulatory organ, said in a statement that the closure is “without prejudice to any possible criminal action”, indicating that the shut-down of the radio station does not mean that the case has ended.

Prior to the closure, various newspapers in Niger had published articles on “extrajudicial executions” by Nigerien soldiers of citizens who where suspected to be in collusion with the MNJ.

MFWA is deeply concerned about the continuous oppression of the media spurred on by the government’s efforts against the rebellion. We call on the administration of President Mamadou Tandja to immediately re-open Sahara FM and launch an independent investigation into the claims of random executions by the Nigerian soldiers.