Burundi To Suspend BBC, VOA Radio Broadcasts

Karenga Ramadhan, president of The National Council of Communication in Burundi, speaks during a press conference in the capital Bujumbura on May 4, 2018, to announce the suspension of BBC and VOA for six months from May 7. PHOTO: AFP


Burundi’s press regulator on Friday said it was suspending broadcasts by the BBC and Voice of America (VOA) by local radio stations ahead of a constitutional referendum on May 17.

The head of Burundi’s National Communication Council told journalists in Bujumbura that a six-month ban would come into force on Monday.

Karenga Ramadhani accused the BBC and VOA of “breaches of the law governing the press and ethics”.

The BBC, he said, “damaged the reputation” of President Pierre Nkurunziza during a discussion programme and had “ignored” previous warnings.

Burundi’s government earlier this week urged the regulator to “take action” against the BBC which it accused of spreading “incendiary statements… hatred and subversion”.

VOA is accused of spreading “very tendentious” information and hiring a journalist “sought by Burundian justice”.

French broadcaster RFI also received a warning for disseminating “tendentious and misleading” information.

Two local stations, Isanganiro and CCIB FM+, were also issued with warnings over an alleged lack of  “rigorous verification of sources”.

Both the BBC and VOA broadcast daily in the national language, Kirundi, and have for decades drawn large numbers of avid listeners, especially in rural areas.

“This is a sign of the times, because even the previous regimes never dared to close the BBC, even during the civil war when it gave voice to the rebels who are now in power,” a Burundian journalist said on condition of anonymity.

“The Burundian government has decided to silence them while we are in the middle of an referendum campaign, probably so that Burundians do not hear those who advocate ‘no’ or call for a boycott,” he added.

Burundians are due to vote in a constitutional referendum that would allow Nkurunziza to rule for another two terms up to 2034.

The 54-year-old president has ruled the tiny central African nation since 2005. His run for a controversial third term in 2015 triggered a deep political crisis that has since seen 1,200 people killed and 400,000 forced from their homes.

The violence and abuses are being investigated by International Criminal Court (ICC) while a vicious press crackdown has seen the majority of independent journalists leave the country.

The BBC on its website says it broadcasts to Burundi on FM relay stations and on two local partner stations.

VOA says it has two FM transmitters in Burundi “that likely will be shut down if the government follows through on the ban.”

“However, listeners still could tune in to VOA broadcasts on shortwave, the internet or FM transmitters in neighboring Congo or Rwanda,” it says.


Channels TV, BBOG Seal Relationship Formally

Channels TV, VOA Seal Relationship FormallyChannels Television and the Broadcasting Board of Governors of the United States of America, BBOG Global, have put pen to paper to concretise the professional media relationship already existing between the two organisations.

At the MoU signing at the headquarters of Channels Television in Lagos, the Chairman/CEO of Channels Media Group, Mr John Momoh said that the MoU was to launch Channels Television’s northern service.

Mr Momoh added that the station has rolled out its Hausa service beginning from Kano state and would soon follow with the Yoruba, pidgin and Igbo languages.

On his part, the Marketing Director of BBOG Global, Mr Doug Boynton, said that the seal offers a wider opportunity between both organisations to connect more in information and goodwill sharing.

Nigerians In US Kick Against Further Election Postponement

Nigerians in the USNigerians in the United States of America have expressed dissatisfaction with the postponement of the general elections, insisting that efforts must be made to ensure elections hold as rescheduled.

They said they were monitoring events back home ahead of the March 28 polls, stressing how critical holding the elections are.

Channels Television’s correspondent in Washington, Maria Byrd, said many Nigerians in the U.S. are using social media and other forms of advocacy to influence the electoral process.

The Executive Director NaijaDC, Chime Asonye, said his group had continued to monitor the electoral process. He said people were disappointed by what they see.

“We had a huge tweet chat, where we were also joined by representatives of the Voice of America and Washington Post to try and galvanise people on what their general thoughts about the election are,” he said.

The Leader of the Acts For Accountability, Lola Adele Oso, expressed disappointment over the postponement of the election, saying the new urgency to handle the Boko Haram sect is a little suspicious.

“I understand the need for concern over safety for those who want to vote. However, Boko Haram is not a new incident. Boko Haram has been around at least for this administration for quite a few years.

“So the new urgency to actually handle the situation that is called Boko Haram is a little suspicious. We hope that the elections will proceed as scheduled on March 28,” she stressed.

FG Meets With Boko Haram Representatives

Boko HaramThe Principal Private Secretary to the President, Ambassador Hassan Tukur, has met with Chadian Government officials as well as representatives of the Boko Haram sect in Saudi Arabia, in an effort to secure the release of the 219 Chibok girls abducted by Boko Haram.

The President’s Principal Private Secretary was speaking on the Voice of America Hausa service.

The Boko Haram sect was represented by Danladi Ahmadu at the meeting, which has also been independently confirmed by Channels Television.

Reports say talks of a cease fire has been achieved while other areas that were discussed are the location and health condition of the girls, those they want to swap with the girls, where Shekau is and more.

The meeting is to continue next week.

Channels Television CEO Spearheads Media Revolution In Africa

John Momoh on African MediaChannels Television is blazing the trail yet again and on this occasion with an eye on the continent.

At a conference organised by the Association for International Broadcasting, AIB, and Channels Television in London on Thursday, the station’s Chairman/CEO, Mr John Momoh, called for a stronger synergy towards the planned digital migration for 2015.

Towards seizing the opportunities in the African media landscape, he said: “This is the time for us to seize the day in Africa and we believe that Channels Television has what it takes to be part of what promises to be a successful broadcast industry in the continent.”

As the digital migration set for 2015 unfolds, media content and service delivery, plus deficits in skilled manpower, have been identified to constrain the industry, and the CEO, African Media Initiative, Amadou Mahtar Ba believes that “small content producers can team up together and come up with something totally powerful.”

Mr Momoh and his counterparts also agreed that opportunities for media engagement in the continent were not being deployed for development, owing to several factors limiting the growth of the broadcast industry with Mr George Twumasi of the African Broadcasting Network also saying: “We have to stop thinking about the limitations we impose on Africa; if the content is good, Africans will buy it.”

With over 50 countries across the continent, access to information should be a top strategy for economic growth. Africans are best positioned to tell their own story. However, an integrated media network is lacking and Mr Momoh revealed Channels Television’s eye on a pan African news network, a revolution which he says calls for partnerships.

“My vision is to work with like-minded colleagues within Nigeria, in Africa and across the globe to create an enabling environment and consortium that would result in the establishment of a credible news and factual programming based television network with intent to enlighten through entertainment, (and) the establishment of low-cost free view DTH (Direct To Home) platform which millions across Nigeria and Africa will be able to afford,” he said.

This vision explains the signing of a news partnership agreement between Channels Television and the Voice of America for free flow of news and information, as well as joint collaborations.

The conference, holding at the New Zealand House, London, was a convergence of top notch broadcasters and communications experts, including the Chief Executive, Association for International Broadcasting, Simon Spanswick, who noted that “Channels TV has played a big part in revolutionizing African television and Nigerian television in particular.”

The Director-General of the National Broadcasting Commission, Emeka Mba, was also present at the conference and he foresees a more prosperous media industry in the digital broadcast era.

Network Africa: Tension, Threats And Unrest, Egyptians Find The Funny Side Of Life

In spite of the concerns raised by the Governor of Borno State, Kashim Shettima, over the Boko Haram insurgents, the Federal Government of Nigeria remains optimistic and has given the assurance that its war against terror is being won and there’s no need to panic.

At a news conference in Abuja, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Public Affairs, Doyin Okupe, revealed that the military was fully equipped to deal with security threats in the country’s North East.

In South Sudan, it’s starting to look like a case of one step forward two steps back; as fighting has broken out in Upper Nile State, making this the first major clash since the Government and rebels signed a ceasefire agreement in January.

Both sides have accused each other of starting the violence in Malakal, the capital of Upper Nile State. We speak to Philip Aguer, the SPLA spokesperson who is currently in Malakal to give us more details on the situation there.

Meanwhile, in South Africa, the search for gold has led to the death of at least 3 people and the arrest of about 22. The bodies of three illegal miners have been discovered at a disused mine, East of Johannesburg. The abandoned mine is in the same area where more than 20 illegal miners were recently rescued after being trapped underground for several days.

Network Africa also finds out if Uganda would be joining the likes of Nigeria, Angola, Burundi and well over a score of countries who have got anti-gay laws in place by not succumbing to the pressure of Washington, which does not support the move, or would they bow to the pressure from Washington not to sign the Anti-Gay Bill into law?

 Across Africa

We also bring you a couple of stories which made headlines in Africa this week, starting with former Rwandan Mayor, Onesphore Rwa-Bu-Kom-Be, who got sentenced by a German court for his role in Rwanda’s 1994 genocide.

The head of the UN Refugee Agency in Liberia is concerned about the alleged “forced deportation” of 14 Ivorian refugees.

Lawyers for deposed Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi have walked out of his trial on charges of espionage and conspiring to commit acts of terror. Mr Morsi was put in the soundproof cage in recent appearances to prevent him shouting and disrupting proceedings.

The defendants have said they cannot follow proceedings because of the cage, but the judge insisted that headphones installed inside the dock would allow them to listen.

The Egyptian Prime Minister, Hazem Beblawi, has confirmed that Islamist militants in the Sinai Peninsula are becoming a threat to foreign tourists, and they are not leaving anything to chance concerning an apparent ultimatum given by Islamist militant group Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis for tourists to leave the country. We bring you a chat with Elizabeth Arrott of the Voice of America, who is in Cairo for a clearer understanding of the situation.

Egyptian Comedy Club

Despite the tension, threats and unrest, some Egyptians have embraced the funny side of life. An Egyptian comedy club is giving new talent a platform to perform and introduce them to the international world of stand-up.

It was founded by Hashem El Garhy and its called ‘Al Hezb El Comedy’ meaning ‘The Comedy Party’. It remains the only existing comedy platform in Egypt, which offers aspiring comedians room to perform.

Enjoy this episode of Network Africa.

Letter To President: Al-Mustapha Challenges Obasanjo To Public Debate

The former Chief Security Officer to late Head of State, Sani Abacha, Hamza Al-Mustapha, has challenged former president Olusegun Obasanjo to an open debate.

This is in reaction to Obasanjo’s letter to President Goodluck Jonathan in which he alleged that he (Al-Mustapha) was released from prison to help the president train snipers to assassinate political opponents.

Al-Mustapha bore his mind and challenged the ex-president to a public debate on the allegations, while speaking to the Hausa Service of the Voice of America, VOA, which was monitored in Abuja on Wednesday.

While admitting that Obasanjo did not mention his name in the controversial open letter, he said that he knew the former president’s assertions were about him.

He expressed disappointment at the former president’s approach: “If he has anything to say on me, he should mention me directly or even challenge me and not make allusions.”

Al-Mustapha vehemently denied the allegations supposedly made by Obasanjo, claiming that training assassins to hunt the president’s political opponents contradicts his known passion for supporting people from Northern Nigeria especially within the military.

He said: “I read Obasanjo’s letter and subsequent comments by Nigerians, I would have responded immediately, but I was away in India receiving treatment.

“Perhaps it is Obasanjo and his cronies that are planning what he was insinuating.”

Al-Mustapha also said: “From 1974 to the present, a lot of things are buried with all sorts of lies, but all would be revealed one day.

“I urge everyone to pray for Obasanjo to accept my challenge for a public debate so that the truth will come out,” he said.

Obama’s acceptance speech aimed at uniting Americans – Sunday Dare

A former head of the Hausa service of the Voice of America, Sunday Dare has claimed that President Barack Obama’s victory speech after his re-election was targeted at uniting Americans because a whole lot of issues brought division into the country before the elections.

Mr Dare was on ground with Sunrise Daily to react to the re-election of President Obama.

He also noted that Obama’s speech is aimed at bringing every American on board to let the American Democracy blossom, be it a Republican or Democrat, to put behind the election and forge ahead.