The Nigerian government appears to have finally succeeded in taking the pirate channel, Radio Biafra, off the airwaves in south east of the country after earlier claims turned out false.
At 7:30 am Saturday, the broadcaster was off the air in Nnewi, Anambra State, where one of PREMIUM TIMES’ reporters monitored from.
It was the first time the channel’s signal would be off in the last one week. The government’s initial claims of jamming the transmission and seizing Radio Biafra’s equipment were untrue as of Friday night.
The Director-General of the National Broadcasting Commission, NBC, Emeka Mba, on Friday said the commission had stopped the transmission of signals of Radio Biafra.
Mr. Mba also said the radio’s operators had been arrested.
“Working with security operatives, the commission has also tracked down, neutralized and confiscated transmitter equipment from several locations in the region,” he said.
“Some suspects involved in the illicit broadcasts have also been arrested and taken to Abuja for questioning and prosecution.
“The commission has also worked with other agencies to remove the transmissions of the illegal station from the satellite, and this has put paid to the divisive and disruptive transmissions.”
However, by 10:08 p.m. on Friday, hours after the NBC’s statement was released, the pirate station, according to a PREMIUM TIMES South East correspondent, was still blaring its message in at least one location in the South East — Nnewi, Anambra State.
The head of the channel, Nnamdi Kanu, was at the time, receiving calls from listeners and also mocking the government. He said the antics of the government was making the station even more popular.
“Nothing can stop us and we are moving higher,” he said.
The station also denied that its staff members were arrested.
On Tuesday, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Information, Shade Yemi-Esan, had told journalists that the NBC had jammed the station’s transmission.
The radio station denied this via its twitter handle and listeners in the South East confirmed that the station had not gone off the airwaves.
It was unclear if the suspension of transmission on Saturday was a result of government action.
Radio Biafra, which claims to be broadcasting the ideology of the former breakaway republic, Biafra, has in the last weeks spewed inciting messages and propaganda.