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Court stops NBC from imposing fines on broadcast stations

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A Federal High Court in Abuja has ruled against the provisions that granted the Nigeria Broadcasting Commission (NBC) the authority to impose fines on broadcast stations for alleged violations of its broadcasting code.

Justice Rita Ofili-Ajumogobia ruled on Wednesday that the NBC is not allowed to have administrative, legislative, and judicial powers simultaneously.

This was contained in a statement made available to newsmen by the Communications Officer for Media Rights Agenda (MRA), Idowu Adewale.

MRA, a non-governmental organisation, sued the NBC for the imposition of N5 million fines on Trust Television, MultiChoice Nigeria Limited, Telcom Satellite Limited, and StarTimes Limited for airing a documentary on banditry in Zamfara State in 2020.

MRA, in the lawsuit filed by its lawyer, Uche Amulu, requested the court to invalidate the fine and challenged the authority of NBC to impose sanctions.

The NGO argued that the NBC lacks the necessary independence and impartiality to impose fines on broadcast stations as punishment or penalties, as it is not a court of law and has not been constituted in a manner to secure these qualities.

Justice Ofili-Ajumogobia set aside the fines imposed by the NBC on August 3, 2022 on the television station and three pay TV platforms.

In her ruling, Ofili-Ajumogobia fully supported MRA’s arguments and granted all the declarations and injunctions requested by the organisation.

She did not, however, grant the organisation’s requests for N1 million in punitive damages for the commission’s “outrageous conduct in abusing its powers and arbitrarily imposing fines on broadcasting stations,” N2 million in general damages for NBC’s infringement on its rights, or N700,000 in costs incurred in bringing the action to court.

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