A Federal High Court in Lagos State presided by Justice A.L Allagoa will on Friday, October 8, ship judgment in a elementary rights swimsuit filed by human rights lawyer, Inibehe Effiong, in opposition to the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), the Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, and the Minister of Information, Alhaji Lai Mohammed.
The swimsuit is in opposition to the Nigerian authorities officers on the imposition on N5million nice on broadcast stations over alleged hate speech.
Effiong had in 2020 sued the NBC, Mohammed and Malami for arbitrarily amending the Broadcast Code and mountain climbing the nice for hate speech from N500,000 to N5million.
The lawyer challenged the N5million nice on Nigeria Info 99.3FM Lagos and the menace by NBC to punish different broadcast stations within the nation over alleged hate speech.
His swimsuit adopted the nice imposed on Nigeria Info by NBC for granting an interview to the late former Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Dr. Obadiah Mailafia, who claimed that an unidentified northern governor was a Boko Haram commander.
The NBC had threatened that any TV or radio station that permits elected officers to be insulted on its platform can be fined N5m or shut down.
The NBC board had additionally alleged that Mohammed hijacked the duty of the NBC and unilaterally hiked the nice for hate speech with out session.
Effiong had in his supporting affidavit instructed the courtroom that the actions of the NBC, the Minister of Information and the Nigerian authorities had gravely affected his freedom of expression and that of broadcast stations, broadcasters and different Nigerian residents who additionally seem as visitors on radio and tv stations to specific important views concerning the authorities and public officeholders.
The lawyer argued that “abusing” or “insulting” the federal government couldn’t be criminalised in a democracy.
He contended that the expression “hate speech” isn’t outlined underneath any written regulation and can’t be invoked or penalized based mostly on the capricious expectations of the Respondents.
He stated that to do in any other case “will amount to setting fire to the constitution” and that “those who are paid with taxpayers’ money cannot be insulated or shielded from insults and abuse by those who pay them (the citizens)”.
The activist reminded the courtroom that “Nigeria has passed the era of colonialism and military dictatorship”. He stated that Lai Mohammed, NBC and the Federal Government had been “seeking to subvert Nigeria’s constitutional democracy with the attendant liberties and foist a civilian dictatorship on the country.”
The lawyer, due to this fact, prayed the courtroom to make “a declaration that broadcast stations in Nigeria, broadcasters, guests and callers during radio and television programmes are entitled to a fair trial before a court of competent jurisdiction as guaranteed by Section 36 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) and Article 7 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act, Cap. A9 L.F.N. 2004 before a sentence of fine or other penalties can be imposed on them over comments, views or opinions expressed on radio and television.”
He additional prayed the courtroom to make an order of perpetual injunction restraining the NBC, the Minister of Information and the Federal Government from imposing fines or different penalties on broadcast stations in Nigeria for feedback or opinions expressed by residents throughout radio or tv programmes.
The lawyer additionally requested the courtroom to nullify and put aside the penalty of nice or different penalties imposed on broadcast stations by the NBC.
Effiong equally requested that the courtroom ought to put aside the provisions of the extant National Broadcasting Code and any modification made thereto, which purports to ban, criminalize or penalize feedback or views expressed by residents concerning the authorities and public workplace holders thought of by the NBC, Lai Mohammed and the Federal Government to be “abusive”, “insulting” or “hate speech”.