Nigeria: Socialists and civil rights activists protest against Channels TV closure

National Broadcasting Commision’s Lagos office stormed.

Friday, September 20, saw socialist and civil society activists picket the National Broadcasting Commission’s office in Lagos in protest at the government’s summary closure of the Channels TV station.

Protest march on the NBC

The march on the NBC, which was organized by the Democratic Socialist Movement (DSM) and United Action for Democracy (UAD), also had in attendance members of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Civil Liberties Organisation (CLO) and Campaign for Democracy (CD).

Protest march on the NBC

Channels TV had been suddenly shut down by the State Security Service (SSS) and some of its staff arrested by armed SSS operatives at the behest of the Yar’Adua government on Tuesday September 16. The reason given for this military-style raid was its broadcasting of a report, previously carried by Agence France Presse the French news agency, that President Umar Musa Yar’Adua was planning to resign.

The NBC subsequently retrospectively tried to legitimise the raid by suspending Channels TV’s operational license on the grounds that it “broadcast an unwholesome news, which could have been detrimental to national interest and lead or likely lead to a breakdown of law and order in the country”.

Immediately other media groups, journalists, civil rights groups and the Nigerian Labour Congress condemned the government’s action.

Friday’s protest action which was covered by journalists from both print and electronic media, was addressed by Segun Sango, the DSM General Secretary, Biodun Aremu, the UAD Convener, as well as the Executive Director of CLO and other civil society activists.

The protesters stormed the NBC’s Lagos office, which had been deserted by the top officials, with a banner and placards denouncing the closure of the TV station as barbaric and undemocratic and calling for its immediate re-opening and the release of its detained workers.

Beyond the condemnation of Channels TV, the protest was organised to alert labour and pro-masses’ organisations on the urgent need to prepare to halt the relapse into military dictatorship, and commence the process of building a fighting working peoples’ political alternative.

A few hours after this picketing the National Broadcasting Commission lifted the suspension of Channels Television and the detained Channels staff were released by the SSS. However the NBC said that the SSS would be continuing its investigation of the TV station.