Justice On-Air: Radio programme for underdogs

Tobi Sanusi

Seventy-two-year-old Gasali Oladimeji had bought about five acres of land from a royal family named Aro in a suburb area of Osun state, South-western Nigeria, in 2020 and he had owned the land ever since.

However, in 2021, Oladimeji started receiving threats from a man claiming ownership of part of the land for himself. The claimant, who is now deceased, was ready to devise every means, including the litigation to claim ownership of the land.

What could distraught and helpless Oladimeji do? He is only a script writer for local entertainers who hardly gets commensurate pay.

“I don’t know lawyer, I don’t know police, I don’t know judges, but I face my God. Somebody advised me to go to Rave FM.

“I bought the land and it was signed by the family I bought it from, but someone just came from nowhere to claim part of the land, saying his father owned the land. He was ready to go to court and police station, but I didn’t know anyone”, Oladimeji recounts his ordeal with land dispute.

Sequel to the threats received, Oladimeji headed to Rave FM, an urban Radio station based in Osun state, Southwest Nigeria, where he met Segun Makinde, the host of a conflict-resolution based programme, E Bami Koya (ward-off my suffering). 

“Segun Makinde treated my case live on the programme for five weeks because it was a tough one. He did not collect a dime from me”. 

The land dispute became a battle between the have and the have not, and in this case, Oladimeji was the have not, who was about to be ripped off his property.

The media became his go-to court which did not cost him anything but transportation fare.

After airing the case on air for five weeks and calling both parties, Oladimeji repossessed his land.

But for the influence of the radio station, Oladimeji would have been dragged to court and most likely lose his property.

“The lawyer on that programme also played a huge role, she was ready to take legal action if the accuser had sought redress in court”, says Oladimeji.

Travel Agent Scam

Kayode Adebayo, is an artisan in Osun state, Southwest Nigeria, who wants a better life outside his country.

Adebayo paid a travel agent $98.3 in total as instalment for a trip to Canada only for his hope of seeking greener pastures outside Nigeria to be dashed after his passport was changed to Dubai visa by the travel agent.

“When I went there, I saw Dubai visa on my passport, I said this wasn’t our discussion, why Dubai visa on my passport? They tried to turn everything against me….. I told them I was going to Canada to go and struggle, not Dubai…they didn’t accept on time until I brought them to Rave“, says Adebayo.

After airing the case on the programme, Adebayo was able to recover more than half of his money from the travel agent.

Media Plays the Role of Judiciary for the Underdogs 

‘E Bami Koya’ programme has for over the years been mediating different forms of disputes including land grabbing, fraud, marital crisis, abuse, domestic disputes among others, saving many who cannot afford the luxury of approaching court to seek redress.

Not only is the programme serving purpose for the underdogs or less privileged, the swift process it takes to resolve cases makes it a go-to judiciary for many, including the rich.

Adebayo and Oladimeji are just few out of the hundreds of people that have had their cases resolved via just a radio programme without having to approach courts.

However, while the programme continues to serve mediation purposes without charging the beneficiaries, there is a price to be paid for it.

The anchor, Makinde, and the lawyer, Oluwayemisi Ogunsua, who renders judicial services on the programme for free, say they are both passionate about fighting for people’s rights. This passion has been driving their impetus to air the programme, but they pay the price by risking their lives to handle hard cases.

“I’ve been on the programme one day when one man told me categorically that I was going to die within two weeks,… It takes boldness and you understanding what you have, because these people are there to intimidate you.

About a week later, my house caught fire and simultaneously, Makinde’s house caught fire…we knew it was not natural”, Ogunsua says as she reminisces about some of the threats she received while handling some difficult cases on the programme.

However, Ogunsua says she remains undeterred in fighting for the right course.Oluwayemisi Ogunsua

“through e Bami koya, both parties are happy because we try to settle the matter in a way that when they see themselves outside rave FM, they will still embrace themselves”, says Makinde who has been the anchor of the conflict resolution programme for over five years.Segun Makinde

Swift Justice Outside Courts

Unlike normal litigation procedure that is usually elongated and many times frustrates the plaintiff or defendant’s hope of getting justice, the radio programme has a bit of leverage.

“when you take a case to the police station, at times, it may not favour you, when you come here….all those big men, they will not want radio stations to mention their names… they’ll have it in mind to quickly resolve the issue”, Adebayo says as he speaks on the leverage the media has on resolving conflict.

Also, many Nigerians have lost faith in the judiciary owing to the corruption that some judges have been enmeshed in.

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crimes (UNODC) and the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) ranks the Nigeria judiciary as the second highest receiver of bribes in the country.

However, not all hope is lost for the underprivileged as the media continues to mediate and resolve disputes for people whose rights have been violated at almost no cost. 

Photo credit: Online/Tobi Sanusi

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