The information minister Lai Mohammed has denied stipulating the fee of N5 million for hate speech offenders, as increased from the initial N500,000.
This development comes in the wake of a lawsuit filed against the minister at a Federal High Court sitting in Lagos, as reported by PUNCH.
The fine was introduced as part of an amendment to the Nigerian Broadcasting Corporation's code in Lagos.
A sum of N5 million was slammed against Nigerian Info FM by the NBC after the former Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Obadiah Mailafia had alleged that a northern governor was one of the heads of the Boko Haram terrorist group, a fine that is currently challenged in court by human rights lawyer, Inibehe Effiong.
In an affidavit submitted by an official of the information ministry, Sunday Ojobo, Lai Mohammed has denied any announcement of an increment in the fine for hate speech.
The affidavit stated, “Paragraph 19 is denied. The 2nd defendant (Mohammed) did not announce an increment in any fine for hate speech from N500,000 to N5,000,000 or any other because there is a governmental body or institution mandated to regulate and enforce the Nigerian Broadcasting Code.
“The constitution of the federal republic of Nigeria provides for derogation from fundamental rights in the interest of public safety, public order and for the purpose of protecting the rights and freedom of other persons.
“The first respondent (NBC) has powers in determining and applying sanctions including revocation of licences of defaulting stations which do not operate in accordance with the broadcast code and in the public interest.
“A public affairs commentator, anchor of programmes and the media are not to use their platform to incite public violence or disorder or in a manner detrimental to the national interest.
“It is within the purview of the federal government of Nigeria to maintain public safety, public order in the interest of all citizens of Nigeria to avoid breakdown of law and order.”
Although, the minister's denial contradicts his announcement, captured on video, where he declared that the fine had been increased from "half a million naira to N5 million".