Broadcasting Code: How FG Reacted To Court Judgement

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The Federal Government has lauded the judgment of the Federal High Court, Lagos dismissing a suit challenging its power to amend the National Broadcasting Code.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the court presided over by Justice Ambrose Allagoa on Monday dismissed the suit filed by a lawyer, Mr Inibote Effiong for lacking in merit.

Reacting to the decision of the court on Tuesday in Kano, the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed said “the laudable judgment has cleared the way for investments to flow into the Broadcast Industry’’.

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Mohammed who spoke at the inauguration of Digital Switch Over (DSO) in Kano state, said he received the good news that the case filed “by some busy bodies’’ had been thrown out.

The plaintiff had approached the court seeking a nullification of the amendment made to the National Broadcasting Code by the Federal Government through the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC).

Effiong, a lawyer had contended that the amendment constituted infringements of press freedom and freedom of expression as guaranteed in Section 39 of the 1999 Constitution.

The plaintiff who personally argued the case also asked the court to declare that the NBC acted ultra vires its statutory powers by imposing sanctions and fines on erring broadcast stations.

Defendants in the suit were Federal Republic of Nigeria, NBC and the Minister of Information and Culture.

In his argument, the Defence Counsel, Mr Nnana Ibom had urged the court to dismiss the suit for lacking in merit.

Ibom, the Director of Legal Services in the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture had argued that press freedom and freedom of expression are not absolute, especially when exercising such rights could lead to setting the country ablaze.

The lawyer had also argued that the plaintiff had no “locus standi’’ to institute the suit.

NAN recalls that the Federal Government in May 2020 unveiled the amendments to the 6th Edition of the National Broadcasting Code.

The Minister of Information and Culture had said that the objectives of the amended code were to promote fair, efficient and effective competition in the broadcast industry.

He said the code would also eliminate monopoly and regulate the acquisition and sharing of content rights in the broadcast industry.

Mohammed said in a bid to curb hate speech in the country, the revised Code increased the fine for hate speech from N500,000 to N5 million. (NAN)

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