NBC to appeal judgment barring it from imposing fines

Mallam Balarabe Shehu Illela NBC DG

Mallam Balarabe Shehu Illela NBC DG gags broadcast media

By Salisu Sani-Idris

The National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) says it will appeal the judgement of the Federal High Court, Abuja, nullifying its powers to impose fines on erring broadcast stations.

Mallam Balarabe Ilelah, the Director-General of NBC, made this known in a statement on Friday in Abuja.

He said, “The attention of the National Broadcasting Commission has been drawn to a ruling by the Federal High Court, Abuja, nullifying its powers to impose fines on broadcast stations that violate the provisions of the Nigeria Broadcasting Code.

“In view of the foregoing, the commission has applied for a certified copy of the judgement. It is global best practise and the ethics of the legal profession that no party to a suit can freely comment on a judgement it has not seen and read.

“The commission will appeal against the judgement when it is found to be in conflict with previous judgements of the court, which empowers the commission to regulate broadcasting in Nigeria.”

A Federal High Court in Abuja, on Wednesday, gave an order of perpetual injunction restraining NBC from imposing fines, henceforth, on broadcast stations in the country.

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In a judgement, Justice James Omotosho also set aside the N500,000 fines imposed on March 1, 2019, on each of the 45 broadcast stations.

Omotosho held that the NBC, not being a court of law, had no power to impose sanctions as punishment on broadcast stations.

Furthermore, he held that the NBC Code, which gives the commission the power to impose sanctions, is in conflict with Section 6 of the Constitution, which vests judicial power in the court of law.

Meanwhile, the judge said that the court would not sit idle and watch a body impose a fine arbitrarily without recourse to the law.

He said that the commission did not comply with the law when it sat as a complainant and, at the same time, with the court and the judge on its own matter.

The judge agreed that the Nigeria Broadcasting Code, being a subsidiary legislation that empowers an administrative body such as the NBC to enforce its provisions, cannot confer judicial powers on the commission to impose criminal sanctions or penalties such as fines.


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