Court Restrains NBC from Imposing Fines on Broadcast Stations

Court Restrains NBC from Imposing Fines on Broadcast Stations

Reprieve came the way of the broadcast industry on Wednesday as a federal High Court in Abuja gave an order of perpetual injunction restraining the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), from imposing fines on broadcast stations as punishment without a recourse to the Court. Justice James Omotosho, who gave the order, also set aside the N500,000.00

Reprieve came the way of the broadcast industry on Wednesday as a federal High Court in Abuja gave an order of perpetual injunction restraining the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), from imposing fines on broadcast stations as punishment without a recourse to the Court.

Justice James Omotosho, who gave the order, also set aside the N500,000.00 fines imposed on March 1, 2023 on each of 45 broadcast stations operating in Nigeria.

Following the sanction, the Trustees of the Media Right Agenda sued the broadcasting commission for violating the rules of natural justice and fair hearing. In a motion marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/1386/2021, the media organisation charged the NBC as the sole respondent in the suit.

In a motion filed on November 9, 2021, by the organization’s lawyer, Noah Ajare, the trustees sought “an order of perpetual injunction restraining the respondent, its servants, agents, privies, representatives, or anyone acting for or on its behalf, from imposing fines on any of the broadcast stations or any other broadcast station in Nigeria for any alleged offence committed under the Nigerian Broadcasting Code.”

In his judgment, Justice James Omotosho set aside the #500,000 with the restraining injunction that NBC should, henceforth, desist from imposing fines on broadcast stations in the country.

The judge claims that the NBC code, which gives the commission the authority to sanction broadcast stations, goes against the judiciary’s authority as stated in Section 6 of the Nigerian Constitution.

He further noted that the commission did not comply with the law for serving as the complainant, the court and the judge on its matter, adding that the court will not continue to watch a body imposing arbitrarily without recourse to law.

He further stated that NBC’s actions were excessive and showed that the commission was ascribing itself both judicial and executive authority.

Judge Omotosho continued by asserting that NBC lacked the authority to launch an investigation that would result in a criminal trial because it was not a branch of the Nigerian police, and that such actions could be tyrannical.

Recalled that another federal court in Abuja, last week, granted the Media Right Agenda the permission to sue the National Broadcasting Commission for refusing to release information about the independence it reportedly received from President Muhammadu Buhari to sanction broadcasting commissions in the country and details of the 302 broadcasting stations it said it sanctioned in September 2022

Justice Omotosho’s ruling also came at a time when numerous media outlets were criticizing the recent sanctions the commission had been enforcing, including the N5 million fine levied against Channels Television for allegedly airing an inciting program on its station.

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