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Nigerian Guild of Editors asks NBC to reverse N5m fine against Nigerian Info FM

THE Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE) has asked the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) to rescind ‘with immediate effect’ the N5 million fine it slammed on Nigeria Info 99.3 FM radio station.

“The Nigerian Guild of Editors, NGE, hereby calls on the National Broadcasting Commission, NBC, to rescind with immediate effect the N5 million fine it imposed on Nigeria Info 99.3 FM radio station, for allegedly providing its platform to be used to promote “unverifiable and inciting views that can incite public disorder,” NGE said in a statement on Saturday.

The ICIR had reported how the Nigerian media watchdog had slammed a N5 million fine on the radio station for what it called unprofessional conduct and for using its platform to promote inciteful and unverifiable comments capable of causing public disorder.

In the NGE  statement jointly signed by Mustapha Isah and  Mary Atolagbe, its President and General Secretary respectively, the body of Nigerian editors said the provision of the new broadcasting code by  on which the NBC relied on to fine the radio station was undemocratic and illegal.

It added that the new broadcasting code which recently increased the fine on hate speech from N500,000 to N5 million has not passed through due process, and as such cannot be the basis for the NBC to impose fine on the radio station.

“The Commission drew its power and authority to sanction the radio station from provisions of a so-called revised Nigeria Broadcasting Code (No. 6) in which the fine for perceived infraction was reviewed from half a million naira to N5 million.

“The Guild finds the action of the NBC preposterous, vexatious and grossly undemocratic because the instrument that gives any tincture of legal credence to such a fine, to wit – the Nigeria Broadcasting Code – is illegal and illegitimate having failed to go through the recommended and mandatory due process for its review,” the NGE said.

“Having carefully studied the statement of Mr. Ikra Aliyu Bilbis, the Chairman of NBC Board, the body of editors is constrained to believe that the NBC acted with inexplicable desperation, using a revised code that lacked the input of the relevant stakeholders who ought to be part of the review of the Code. This makes the action of the NBC null and void, ultra vires and of no justifiable effect. The Guild hereby demands an immediate reversal of the fine and nullification of any other punishment meted out to the radio station.”

The NGE also expressed concerns at what it described as ‘at the arbitrary imposition of fines on broadcast stations without being given an opportunity to defend themselves by the NBC’.

” By its action, the NBC acted as the accuser and the judge at the same time. The NBC referred to sections of the Nigeria Broadcasting Code to justify the fine but it failed to acknowledge the sad fact that it puts itself in the way of fair hearing in a manner that undermines fair comment and free speech.”

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