Following a fine on some media organizations by NBC over what it termed unprofessional coverage of the #EndSARS protest, the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), and 261 concerned Nigerians, civil society and media groups have queried the legality of the court injunction asking Channels, AIT, and Arise TV to pay N3 million fines each over their coverage of the protests.
In response to this legal anomaly, the aforementioned organizations have filed a lawsuit against the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) and the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, imploring the court to “declare arbitrary, illegal, and unconstitutional, the fines imposed on the aforementioned media houses and to stop the NBC from collecting the money.” This is according to a report by PremiumTimes
What you should know
Nairametrics had earlier reported that NBC had fined AIT, Channels, and Arise TV over the use of unverifiable footages during the #EndSARS protests.
There are over 255 concerned Nigerians rights group who joined the suit as co-plaintiffs and some of them are; Premium Times Services Limited; Centre for Journalism Innovation and Development; HEDA Resource Centre; International Centre for Investigative Reporting; African Centre for Media and Information Literacy; and Media Rights Agenda.
In the suit number, FHC/ABJ/CS/1436/2020 filed last Friday at the Federal High Court, Abuja; the plaintiff, Messrs. Kolawole Oluwadare, Adelanke Aremo and Opeyemi Owolabi are seeking: “an order setting aside the arbitrary, illegal and unconstitutional fines of N9 million and any other penal sanction unilaterally imposed by the NBC and Mr. Lai Mohammed on Channels, AIT and Arise TV, and on any other radio/television stations simply for carrying out their professional and constitutional duties.”
In addition, the plaintiffs argued that: “Section (2)(n) of the NBC Act and the Broadcasting Code are draconian and fundamentally negates the provisions of the 1999 constitution.”
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What they are saying
In their words, “The NBC and Mr Lai Mohammed have consistently used broadcasting codes to suppress the watchdog roles of independent media, and to violate Nigerians’ human rights, including the rights to freedom of expression, to disseminate and receive information, and hold their government and public officials to account.”
“The action by the NBC and Mr Lai Mohammed is arbitrary, illegal and unconstitutional, as it is contrary to section 39 of the Nigerian Constitution, Article 9 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which Nigeria has ratified. Their action is apparently aimed to clamp down on media freedom and Nigerians’ human rights.”
Lastly, the plaintiffs prayed that the court nullifies the N5 million and other penal sanction unilaterally imposed on 99.3 FM Lagos for discharging its duties.