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Court Bans NBC from Imposing Fines on Broadcasting Stations

Court Bans NBC from Imposing Fines on Broadcasting Stations

The Federal High Court Judge, Justice Rita Ofili-Ajumogobia, has nullified the power of the National Broadcasting Network (NBC) to impose fines on broadcasting stations for alleged breaches of the Nigeria Broadcasting Code.

In a recall, NBC had in 2022 imposed a fine of N5 million each on television stations and one of three pay TV platforms for allegedly undermining Nigeria’s national security by broadcasting documentaries on banditry in Nigeria. The broadcasting agency later debunked it as “untrue”.

Also, on March 31st, 2023, NBC fined Channels TV on the appearance of Yusuf Datti Baba-Ahmed, the Labour Party Vice Presidential candidate, for saying “the swearing in of President-elect Bola Ahmed Tinubu would mean an end to democracy in Nigeria.”

However, in July 2023, NBC reportedly moved a motion to set aside the judgment, which stopped it from imposing fines on broadcasting stations.

NBC has, in such acts, constituted itself as a prosecutor against press freedom and freedom of speech, which led to the Media Rights Agency (MRA) filing a lawsuit against NBC.

Hence, Justice Ofili-Ajumogobia held that NBC, being not a court of law, acted above its powers by imposing such fines.

The Judge declared null and void the provisions of the Nigeria Broadcasting Code authorizing the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) to impose fines on broadcast stations for alleged breaches of the Code as it ruled that administrative and regulatory bodies could not exercise judicial powers.

As a win for press freedom against government gagging on free speech, the judge commended MRA for challenging NBC’s action and issued an order of perpetual injunction restraining the Commission or anyone acting on its behalf from further imposing any fine on any media platform or broadcast station in Nigeria for any alleged offense committed under the Nigeria Broadcasting Code.

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