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Court Orders NBC To Stop Imposing Fines On Broadcast Stations

Court Orders NBC To Stop Imposing Fines On Broadcast Stations 

By acting as a judge and a complainant in its own case, the commission broke the law.

By Omotayo Olutekunbi

A Federal High Court in Abuja ordered a permanent injunction on Wednesday, May 10, 2023, prohibiting the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) from imposing penalties on Nigerian broadcast stations.’

The ruling came after Justice James Omotosho set aside the 500,000 penalties imposed by NBC on March 1 on each of the 45 broadcast stations.

Justice Omotosho contended that being a non-judicial body, NBC lacked the authority to censure broadcast stations.

Furthermore, he determined that the NBC Code, which gives the commission the authority to issue penalties, is in conflict with Section 6 of the Constitution, which vests judicial power in the courts of law.

Justice Omotosho argued that allowing an arbitrary authority to impose penalties without recourse to the law was not within the court’s jurisdiction. He further pointed out that the commission behaved illegally by serving as both a complaint and a judge in its own case.

The court agreed that, as subsidiary law, the Nigeria Broadcasting Code cannot provide the commission judicial authority to impose criminal sanctions or penalties, such as fines.

He further indicated that the panel lacked the jurisdiction to initiate a criminal inquiry that may result in criminal prosecution and the application of punishment, which is contrary to the theory of separation of powers.

The commission’s activities, according to Justice Omotosho, exceeded its authority since it claimed both judicial and executive authorities. He claimed that the theory of separation of powers is intended to avoid tyranny by not concentrating too much authority in one organ.

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