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Media Rights Agenda (MRA) has filed a lawsuit at the Federal High Court in Ibadan, Oyo State, challenging the powers of the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) to impose fines on broadcasting stations.
The organisation is asking the court to set aside the fines of N3 million each imposed by NBC on three television stations on October 23 as unlawfully imposed and therefore null and void.
In a statement signed on Monday by its Communication Officer, Idowu Adewale and made available to NewsWireNGR, the group is asking the court to set aside the fines as unlawfully imposed, and issue a perpetual injunction restraining the Commission from imposing sanctions or fines or other unlawful or unconstitutional restrictions on television and radio stations in Nigeria.
MRA is also seeking the following reliefs for the three television stations.
“A declaration that the NBC’s arbitrary act of sanctioning and imposing fines of N3 million each on ARISE TV, Channels TV, and AIT purportedly in line with Sections 5.6.3 and 5.6.9 of the Nigeria Broadcasting Code creates a chilling or stifling effect on freedom of expression and is likely to interfere with the right of MRA’s members to freedom of expression, particularly their right to receive ideas and information without interference as guaranteed by section 39 of the Constitution and Article 9 of the African Charter.
“A declaration that the fine of N3 million each imposed on the stations constitutes an interference with the rights of MRA’s members to freedom of expression, particularly their right to receive ideas and information without interference guaranteed by section 39 of the Constitution and Article 9 of the African Charter.
“A declaration that the NBC, not being a judicial body, lacks the power to impose fines on any broadcaster, including fines imposed on the three stations, and that the imposition of such fines is null and void and a consequential order setting aside the fines of N3 million each imposed on the three stations as the fines were unlawfully imposed.”
The group also seek a perpetual injunction restraining the NBC, its officers, agents and/or representatives from imposing sanctions or fines or excessive, disproportionate, unlawful, and unconstitutional restrictions on television or radio stations which will interfere with the rights of MRA’s members to freedom of expression, particularly their right to receive ideas and information without interference.
The suit is supported by an 18-paragraph affidavit deposed to on behalf of MRA by Ms Mercy Abudu, in which she recounted the circumstances surrounding the imposition of the fines on the three stations and concerns of censorship of the television stations expressed by members of MRA and their fears that the action would infringe on their rights to receive information and ideas from the stations.
No date has been fixed for the hearing.
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