A Federal High Court in Abuja has declared as null and void the provisions of the Nigeria Broadcasting Code authorizing the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) to impose fines on broadcast stations who allegedly breach the code.
Justice Rita Ofili-Ajumogobia quashed the said code on the grounds that the NBC as an administrative and regulatory bodies could not exercise judicial powers. She made the declaration on Wednesday while delivering judgment in the suit filed by the Media Rights Agenda (MRA) against the NBC.
The suit was sequel to the commission’s imposition of fines of N5 million each on a television station and three pay TV platforms in 2022 for allegedly undermining Nigeria’s national security through their broadcasting of documentaries on banditry in Nigeria.
The plaintiff, in the suit filed on their behalf by their lawyer, Mr. Uche Amulu, asked the court to hold, among others, that the NBC’s action of imposing a fine on each of the media platforms and the station for broadcasting a documentary about the state of banditry and security in Zamfara State is unlawful and unconstitutional and has a chilling effect on the freedom of media to impart information and ideas.
The plaintiff further submitted that its action of the NBC would deter the platforms and station from reporting the true state of affairs regarding the security situation in the country, and thereby violating the rights of MRA, its members, and other citizens of Nigeria to freedom of expression, particularly their rights to receive ideas and information without interference, as guaranteed by the Constitution and the African Charter.