• News - North Central - FCT
  • Updated: May 12, 2023

Why Court Ruling On NBC Can't Stand — Information Ministry

The Director of the Legal Department of the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture, Nelson Orji, has stated why the recent court ruling on the Nigerian Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) cannot stand.

The court verdict bars NBC from imposing fines on broadcast stations across the nation; something that has been called “ill-conceived” and “dead on arrival” by Orji.

According to Orji, the ruling cannot stand because a Federal High Court also sitting in Abuja earlier gave a contrary decision that NBC had the power to impose sanctions on erring stations.

He disclosed that Justice N. E. Maha in April 2022 had ruled in a case brought against NBC by seven organisations led by the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project.

In a chat with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), Orji interpreted the provision of Section 2(1)(n) of the NBC Act, 1992, which states: “The Commission shall have the responsibility of determining and applying sanctions including revocation of licences of defaulting stations which do not operate in accordance with the broadcast code and in public interest.”

Speaking on the provision, Orji stated: “The law is settled that a regulator imposing fines under its enabling law in the discharge of its functions could not have acted unconstitutionally.

“In Moses Ediru v Federal Road Safety Commission and 20 ors (supra) the court held that the FRSC Act gives the Commission the right to impose and enforce sanctions and such right does not derogate from the judicial powers of the court as provided in the constitution.

“In essence, there is no confluence point where the powers of FRSC and that of the court meet.

“In that Moses Ediru case, the court further observed that FRSC and the court are mutually exclusive such that the FRSC powers of enforcement of sanctions is not a usurpation of the judicial powers of the court”, he shared.

“Where there is conflicting decision of courts of coordinate jurisdiction a party can choose which of them to obey and it will not be held in contempt of any court.

“It is worthy of note that the judgement of Justice Maha is first in time and still subsisting as it has not been set aside by any appellate court.

“In this light, NBC is still well within its right to continue to impose sanctions on broadcast organisations which run fowl of the NBC code”, Orji added.

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