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Court refuses to reverse judgement stopping NBC from fining broadcast stations

 


The Federal High Court (FHC), Abuja, on Thursday, dismissed the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC)’s motion seeking an order setting aside its judgement restraining the commission from imposing fines on broadcast stations in the country.

 

The judge, James Omotosho, in a judgement, dismissed all the grounds put forward by the NBC, describing same as “an afterthought.”

 

Mr Omotosho held that despite being served with the originating process and hearing notices in the case leading to the judgment, the commission failed to file its defence.

 

The judge said contrary to the NBC’s argument that it was not served with court processes that led to the judgement, “the court file shows that services were effected on the respondent applicant (NBC) but failed to file and refused to enter appearance.”

He said there was an affidavit of facts deposed to by the court bailiff that confirmed that court processes were served on the commission on different occasions.

“The respondent applicant cannot claim it was not served. The objection is hereby overruled,” he said.

 

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Mr Omotosho had, on 10 May, given an order of perpetual injunction restraining NBC from imposing fines on broadcast stations.

 

The judge, in a judgement, also set aside the N500,000 fines imposed, on 1 March 2019, on each of the 45 broadcast stations alleged to have violated its code.

 

He held that NBC, not being a court of law, had no power to impose sanctions as punishment on broadcast stations.

 

He further held that the NBC Code, which gives the commission the power to impose sanctions, conflicts with Section 6 of the Constitution which vested judicial power in the court of law.

 

The judgement followed a suit filed by Media Rights Agenda (MRA), a civil society organisation concerned with freedom of information.

 

In the suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/1386/2021, the group sued NBC as the sole respondent.

 

In the motion dated November 2021, by its lawyer, Noah Ajare, the group sought a declaration that the sanctions procedure applied by NBC in imposing N500,000 fines on each of the 45 broadcast stations on 1 March 2019, was a violation of the rules of natural justice, among others.

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