A one-time labour leader in Bauchi state, Comrade Abdullahi Shehu has said that it is inappropriate for Governor Mohammed Abubakar to revoke the Right of Occupancy of land already certificated to Daar Communication, proprietors of AIT and Raypower stations in Bauchi.
“Once Daar Communication has the Certificate of Occupancy, there is no law that guarantees or allow Governor Abubakar to withdraw it, that is my own understanding”, Shehu said.
Shehu, in an interview with newsmen in Bauchi Tuesday, explained that once the conditions under which the Right of Occupancy were not violated, there is no way whatsoever for the government to withdraw that right.
“Once you have a certificate of occupancy, you will see within the certificate some laws or regulations which says if you don’t do A, B, C the right of occupancy will be revoked. But if those laws were strictly followed, there is no justification in withdrawing the right of ownership”.
According to him, Governor Abubakar is just trying to chock-up and squeeze the space of freedom of expression and freedom of the press.
“AIT is the only vibrant private media house around that is giving people the opportunity to express themselves about what is happening in Bauchi state especially on issues of politics”, labour chief said.
The labour leader wondered how what he described as illegal committee led by a retired Air Commodore Gamawa should recommend for the withdrawal of Right of Occupancy of land on which Daar communication is operating.
“You can have the right to set up a committee but the Baba Gamawa Committee by the Constitution of Nigeria does not have the right to confiscate any property, so most of its actions are fairly illegal”.
Shehu said however that the bottom-line of the matter is that he is squeezing out the opportunity for the opposition and ordinary citizens of Bauchi state to express themselves on issues that matters.
“We know for sure if you want to hear anything from the opposition particularly in the radio or television, you have to listen to the AIT or Raypower, so with him asking that they should go, I think he is trying to close-up which means Bauchi will be a one-party state”.
Comrade Abdullahi Shehu described the government’s action against the AIT as very dangerous precedence, and a clear danger to rights of people for freedom of information.
He recalled that the right granted the Daar Communication by the Yuguda administration to operate is geared to open democratic space for people to express themselves, and for policies of Bauchi to be heard even outside the state due to the medium wider reach.
Shehu observed that it is difficult to have a private media that can sustain itself in Bauchi due to non-availability of commercial activities to sustain it, hence AIT can drop the towel and go, as it would not be worth the trouble to pay money to stay in Bauchi.
“But as I said earlier, he is closing the opportunity for people to express themselves, I think is a deliberate policy to just cut-off freedom of expression and the freedom of media in Bauchi state”, he lamented.
After-all, she noted, governments in Nigeria defends on exigencies of time, as Nigerians are aware that Obasanjo handed out Bakassi for certain exigencies which that government knew itself and no president came to review it.
“So what is it that AIT has done that it become inimical to Bauchi state or to the right of government of Bauchi state, or to the right of people of Bauchi state that they didn’t complaint of”, he queried.
He advised the Government and Governor Abubakar to have a large heart to be able to take on whatever opposition says and to also see that they have a responsibility to help the people sustain stipulations in the Nigerian Constitution particularly as it concerns freedom of expression and equality.