NBC fails bid to vacate order stopping imposition of fines on stations

THE Nigerian Broadcasting Commission (NBC) has failed to secure a court order to vacate a ruling stopping it from imposing fines on broadcast stations.

The presiding judge, James Omotosho, slammed the commission for failing to defend the case despite being served the court papers.

According to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), the court file showed that NBC was served with the case but failed to enter an appearance.

The judge said the affidavit of facts deposed to by the court bailiff confirmed that court processes were served on the commission on different occasions but were ignored.

“The respondent applicant cannot claim it was not served. The objection is hereby overruled,” said the judge on Thursday, November 23.

In May, The ICIR reported that the judge gave a perpetual injunction restraining NBC from imposing fines on stations.

He said the commission lacked the powers to impose penalties.

The judge held that the NBC Code, which gives the commission the power to impose sanctions, conflicts with Section 6 of the Constitution, which vested the authority in the law courts.

The judge also set aside fines imposed on 45 broadcast stations by NBC.

In 2019, NBC fined 45 broadcast stations the sum of N500,000 each over alleged ethical infractions in the year’s general elections. The commission said the stations had to be sanctioned for allowing politicians to utter abusive, inciting, and provocative statements during broadcast programmes.

Displeased, the Incorporated Trustees of Media Rights Agenda filed a suit against NBC in 2020.

The group asked the court to declare the sanctions procedure applied by NBC in imposing the fine on the broadcast stations a violation of the right to a fair hearing under Section 36 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) and Articles 7 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act (Cap AQ) Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.

Ruling on the N500,0000 fine, Omotosho said the commission acted as the complainant, court, and judge when it acted on the alleged infractions.






     

     

    The judge noted that the Nigerian Broadcasting Code could not confer judicial powers on NBC to impose criminal sanctions or penalties.

    He pointed out that NBC had no power to conduct a criminal investigation that would lead to a criminal trial and imposition of sanctions.

    “This will go against the doctrine of separation of powers. The action of the respondent qualifies as excessiveness as it had ascribed to itself the judicial and executive powers,” he said. 

    The judge held that the doctrine sought to prevent tyranny by concentrating too much power in one organ.

     

    Marcus bears the light, and he beams it everywhere. He's a good governance and decent society advocate. He's The ICIR Reporter of the Year 2022 and has been the organisation's News Editor since September 2022. Contact him via email @ [email protected].

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