Kogi State Governor, Alh. Yahaya Bello has reportedly shutdown the popular community radio in Kogi Central, TAO FM, to prevent the sacking of the manager of the radio station, Dr. Halimat Salihu popularly known as Big Mama.
According to investigation, the community radio station that was shutdown by the state government on the guise of non payment of ground rent was hurriedly carried out by the state government to prevent the sacking of Big Mama by the board of trustees of the radio station.
The investigation revealed that the board of trustees of TAO FM has received series of complaints about the manager of the radio station bordering on bribe, acquisition of three houses from the state government and the recent complaint by Natasha Akpoti Campaign Organization for outrightly turning down several jingles for her campaign while accepting that of APC senatorial candidate, Alh. Yakubu Oseni.
It was gathered that the board of trustees who saw their efforts of establishing a private community radio to serve the interest of all Ebira sons and daughters being destroyed by a manager who has chosen to do will of the state governor switched into action and found her wanton of the said crimes.
The investigation revealed that after Big Mama was found wanton of the allegations levelled against her, the board of trustees had no option than to issue sack letter to the manager of the radio station who chose to do the will of the state governor than that of journalism ethics.
The investigation further revealed that in a swift reaction to fight for Big Mama who had been doing the whims and caprices of the governor, closed down the radio station under the pretense of non payment of ground rent.
A source who works in the radio station said, they were already tired of Kogi State government influence in the operation of the station.
According to the source, Kogi state government influence was so much that no opposition parties was allowed to campaign on the radio station neither do the manager accept jingles from opposition parties.
The source disclosed that call-in programme that will allow the audience to air their views about salary payment and other affairs of the state were suspended by the embattled manager to follow the will of the state governor.
The source recalled how a popular staff of the radio station was sacked by the manager for anchoring call-in programme about salary imbroglio in the state where a caller called to pour his irk about his several months of unpaid salaries.
The source stressed that, “as you can see, the notice on the gate of TAO FM by Kogi State Internal Revenue Service closing the radio station on the guise of non payment of ground rent is hurriedly carried out without putting procedures for closure of organization like this into consideration.
“Was there a written notice or warning before now? Is it now they suddenly realized that TAO FM failed to pay ground rent?
“All these salient questions are what the state government failed to put into consideration and they hurriedly closed down the station and moved heavily armed men to the station to prevent the sacking of Big Mama and further prevent the employment of new manager that will put journalism ethics and the interests of Ebira sons and daughters irrespective of political leanings ahead of personal interest”, the source said.