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Datti Baba-Ahmed: NBC Dragged To Court Over N5 Million Fine It Slammed On Channels Television

Posted by Thandiubani on Wed 26th Apr, 2023 - tori.ng

In the court document, President Muhammadu Buhari, the NBC and the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohamed were listed as the first to third defendants in the summons

 
The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) and the Centre for Journalism Innovation and Development (CJID) have sued the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) over the N5 million fine it slammed on Channels Television last month for an alleged violation of the commission’s code.
 
NBC had on March 31, 2023, slammed a fine of N5 million on Channels Television over an interview with the Vice Presidential candidate of the Labour Party, Yusuf Datti Baba-Ahmed, who said swearing in the President-elect, Bola Tinubu, would mean an end to democracy in Nigeria.
 
Following this incident, the incorporated trustees of the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) and the Centre for Journalism Innovation and Development (CJID) have asked the Federal High Court sitting in Lagos to determine whether the arbitrary fine of N5m imposed on Channels Television by NBC is not in breach of the principles of fair hearing and right to access to information by the public.
 
This online platform gathered that the plaintiffs want the court to mandate the NBC to reverse the fine immediately.
 
It was learnt that the development was contained in a copy of the originating summons sighted by Channel TV which was filed on the 6th of April by a legal practitioner, Adelanke Aremo on behalf of the plaintiffs.
 
In the court document, President Muhammadu Buhari, the NBC and the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohamed were listed as the first to third defendants in the summons
 
The summons listed 2 questions to be determined by the court:
 
(1) Whether the wordings of Sections 3.0.2.1 and 3.8.1(b) of the National Broadcasting Code, it’s interpretation and reliance by the NBC to impose a fine of N5m against Channels TV and the threat of imposing greater sanctions on the TV station IS NOT INCONSISTENT with Section 22 & 39 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended), Article 9 of the African Charter on Human & Peoples’ Right and Article 19 of International Convenant on Civil & Political Rights.
 
(2) Whether the arbitrary fine of N5m on Channels TV by the NBC under the supervisory control of the Min of Information & Culture is not against the doctrine and principles of fair hearing, hence a breach of Section 14.3 14.3.1, 14.3.6 of the National Broadcasting Code and Section 36 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended).
 
In documents put before the court, the plaintiffs also say that following the March 22nd interview of the Vice Presidential candidate of the Labour Party, Dr. Datti Baba-Ahmed on Channels Tv, the director of Media & Publicity of the All Progressive Congress Presidential Campaign Council, Bayo Onanuga petitioned the NBC against Channels Tv alleging that the station caused its platform to be used to stir or incite insurrection
 
They further said that upon receipt of the petition and without recourse, invitation or fair hearing afforded to the management of Channels Tv, the NBC arbitrarily and unilaterally imposed the N5 million fine on March 27 allegedly for a severe infraction of the NBC code with a further threat to impose more sanctions, should the fine not be paid. The station was given a two-week ultimatum to pay the fine.
 
The plaintiffs also stated that the letter of NBC conveying the fine is vague as it did not disclose any section of the NBC code that Channels Tv violated.
 
The plaintiffs say together with several millions of Nigerians, they rely on Channels TV to access information and for news and form opinions on government policies through the stations daily news paper reviews
 
The reliefs sought include:
 
“1. A DECLARATION that the wordings of Sections Sections 3.0.2.1 and 3.8.1(b) of the National Broadcasting Code, it’s interpretation and reliance by the NBC to impose a fine of N5m against Channels TV and the threat of imposing greater sanctions on the TV station IS INCONSISTENT with Section 22 & 39 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended), Article 9 of the African Charter on Human & Peoples’ Right and Article 19 of International Convenant on Civil & Political Rights.
 
“2. A DECLARATION that the wordings of Sections Sections 3.0.2.1 and 3.8.1(b) of the National Broadcasting Code, its interpretation and reliance by the NBC to impose a fine of N5m against Channels Tv and the threat of imposing greater sanctions on the television station is null, void and of no effect under Section 1(1) & (3) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) for being inconsistent with Section 22 & 39 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended).
 
“3. A DECLARATION that the arbitrary fine of N5m imposed on Channels Tv by NBC under the supervisory control of the Minister of Information and Culture is in breach of the right of the management of Channels Tv to fair hearing and a breach of the right to freedom of expression and access to information for members of the applicants’ organisation and other Nigerians who rely on Channels Tv for information and news reportage.
 
“4. AN ORDER setting aside the fine of N5m imposed on Channels TV by the NBC on April 1st for being inconsistent and incompatible with Section 22, 36 & 39 of the 1999 Constitution(as amended), Article 9 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act and Article 19 of International Convenant on Civil and Political Rights.
 
“5. AN ORDER of the court mandating the NBC to reverse its decision imposing a fine of N5m on Channels Tv forthwith.
 
“6. AN ORDER mandating the Minister of Information and Culture to review the activities of the NBC capable of violating the right to freedom of expression, access to information and media freedom and take appropriate remedial actions on same.
 
“7. AN ORDER of the court compelling the President to direct the NBC & the Minister of Information and Culture to reverse the decision by the NBC imposing a fine of N5m on Channels TV in compliance with and fulfillment of the provisions of Section 39 of the 1999 Constitution and Nigeria’s human rights obligations under Article 9 of the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act and Article 19 of International Convenant on Civil and Political Rights and other international treaties to which Nigeria is a state party.
 
“8. AN ORDER OF PERPETUAL INJUNCTION restraining the defendants or any other authority, whether jointly or severally, persons or group of persons from unlawfully shutting down, further imposing fine, suspension, withdrawal of license or doing anything whatsoever to unlawfully impose sanctions on Channels Tv and any other broadcasting stations in Nigeria from engaging in lawful broadcast, as any such steps amount to a violation of Section 22,36 & 39 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended), Article 9 of the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act and Article 19 of International Convenant on Civil and Political Rights.”
 
The case has been assigned to Justice Peter Lifu who has fixed May 25 for hearing.


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