Nigeria: One radio station is raising awareness about injustice (IJNET)

| February 6, 2023

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In September, Crusaders Radio, an independent radio that broadcasts from Niger State, received a report about a young man who had committed sexual violence against two minors. The radio station decided to help and involved Niger State Child’s Right Agency to help identify and prosecute the perpetrator. The man was later arrested by authorities.

For the past five years, Crusaders Radio has shed light on civil and human rights abuses in the state. Through its reporting, the radio show has helped many people get justice.

During the show, which has over 70,000 listeners, listeners submit complaints which are then discussed and resolved on air.

Sony Otache is the founder and CEO of Crusaders Radio. He says: “Our activities are mainly centered on injustice, abuse of power, human rights abuse, child abuse, and theft, among other social vices. Any of the problems we can’t provide solutions to, we look for the root causes of the problems and uproot [them] directly.”

According to Mr. Otache, Crusaders Radio has helped over 2,000 people through the outlet’s unique dispute method. Cases brought to the radio show’s attention are first negotiated off-air between the parties and the radio station. Only when a party refuses to resolve the case after several attempts is it discussed on the program.

For instance, co-host Ahmed Isah Sapke explained how the show helped several students at the School of Nursing Sciences, Bida, in Niger State. graduate in 2022. In this case, the school management published names of students who would not be sitting for their final year semester examination because of their failure to obtain their index number. The index number indicates the cost of studies for students, and these students had not received their number because of changes in the school fees payment system. Without sitting the exam, these students could not graduate.

In October, just before the commencement of exams, one of the students, Saratu Abubaker Doma, forwarded the list of the affected students to Crusaders Radio’s service line, accompanied by a brief text explaining what transpired between the students and school management. After Crusaders Radio reported the case to the state government, the school changed its decision and allowed the affected students to obtain their index number and register for final exams.

In another case, a former police officer reached out to Crusaders Radio, claiming he had been illegally dismissed from service in 1991 on a misconduct allegation that could not be proved. The radio show contacted the police commission in the capital city of Abuja and the officer ultimately received some of the retirement benefits he was previously barred from.

A popular saying in Pidgin English, often spoken by the presenter of the radio show, is “na person wey he hands dirty na him dey hide am for back” — in other words, “He who comes into equity must come with clean hands.” For those behind Crusaders Radio, this means that they must not take sides during the disputes.

The continued existence of the radio show speaks to its impact, explained Otache. He said: “Government and society could clamp down on us if we are doing our things wrongly and out of context. We are on track and we are heading in the right direction. We are prospering and we hope to strive higher to touch more lives.”

The team plans to search for experts on pressing issues such as elections, politics, and social conflicts, both for interviews and to offer timely insight. The main challenge Crusaders Radio continues to face is gaining further trust among the public, including with government officials, in order for citizens to report cases to them without fear of reprisal or of biased decision-making.

Mohammed Dantala Aliyu is a journalism lecturer and public affairs analyst. He noted that radio shows like Crusaders Radio have gone a long way in addressing problems of social injustice, which has become rampant in Nigerian society. The easiest way to curb injustice, says Mr. Aliyu, is by raising awareness through the media.

He added that these radio shows have been instrumental in educating the public about social injustice and how it can be managed, which makes their presence in the public space invaluable.

Many survivors of social injustice in Niger State have stories to tell, but have been unable to voice their problems due to a lack of opportunity. By providing a platform for survivors to speak up and be heard, Crusaders Radio and programs like it are fulfilling a crucial need in the region.

This story is adapted from an article written by Hamzat Ibrahim Abaga and published by IJNET, titled “In Nigeria, one radio station is raising awareness around injustice.” To read the full story, go to:

Photo credit: AMISOM via Iwaria.