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Court Grants MRA Permission To Challenge NBC’s Refusal To Disclose Payment Of License Fees By Broadcasting Stations

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A Federal High Court in Lagos today granted Media Rights Agenda (MRA) leave to proceed with its Freedom of Information (FOI) suit against the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) for refusing to disclose details of payments of license fees by broadcasting stations and platforms operating in Nigeria and the amount owed the Commission by stations as license fees.

Justice Ambrose Lewis Alagoa paved the way for the suit to proceed upon a preliminary motion brought by MRA’s lawyer, Mr. Alimi Adamu, asking the Court to grant the organization leave to mount a legal challenge to NBC’s failure to provide it with the information it requested through a letter dated August 22, 2022.

In the suit in which the NBC and the Attorney-General of the Federation are named as Respondents, MRA is contending that the NBC’s refusal to provide it with the information it requested amounts to a breach of its right of access to information as well as a flagrant violation of the FOI Act.

The motion ex-parte brought by Mr. Adamu, pursuant to Order 34, Rules 1, 3(1) and (2) of the Federal High Court (Civil Procedure) Rules 2009 and Sections 1(3) and 20 of the FOI Act, asked the court to grant MRA leave to seek the following reliefs:

· A declaration that the NBC’s denial of access to MRA of the information it requested by a letter dated August 22, 2022 constitutes a violation of the organization’s rights of access to information established and guaranteed by Section 1(1) and 4 of the FOI Act;

· A declaration that the NBC’s failure and/or refusal to give MRA a written notice that access to all or part of the information it requested would not be granted with reasons for the denial and the section of the FOI Act upon which the Commission relied to deny the organization access to the information requested amounts to a flagrant violation of Section 4 (b) and 7 (1) of the FOI Act;

· A declaration that by its failure to give MRA access to all or part of the information applied for in its letter dated August 22, 2022, within the time limit set out in the Act, the NBC is deemed to have refused to give MRA access to the information requested, as provided under Section 7(4) of the FOI Act;

· An order directing the NBC to disclose or make available to MRA a list of all broadcasting stations and platforms operating in Nigeria licensed by the Commission; the amount that each of them is required to pay as license fees; the status of payment of each of the station from the date of its license to August 22, 2022; for those licensed broadcasting stations that are owing, the amount of indebtedness and the period covered by the amount; and for broadcasting corporations owned by various State Governments included in the list of the broadcasting stations whose broadcast licenses were revoked by the Commission as announced by its Director-General in his press briefing on August 19, 2022, a breakdown of the amount of indebtedness by each of the radio stations and each of the television stations owned by the respective State-owned broadcasting corporations.

· An order directing the NBC to deposit the information requested by MRA with the court pending the determination of the suit;

· An order directing the NBC to pay to MRA the sum of N1 million as exemplary and aggravated damages for the flagrant and unlawful violation of the organization’s right of access to information; and

· An order directing the Attorney-General of the Federation to initiate criminal proceedings against the NBC for the offence of wrongful denial of access to information under Section 7 (5) of the FOI Act.

Upon listening to Mr. Adamu move the motion and after reviewing the motion papers as well as a copy of MRA’s request to the NBC, Justice Alagoa granted the request as prayed.

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Scores Of Workers May Lose Jobs As Amazon Shuts Wholesale Distribution Unit

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E-commerce giant, Amazon is shutting down its wholesale e-commerce website for neighbourhood stores – Amazon Distribution.

This is its third business closure in the country. Last week, the company announced that it will shut down the online learning platform, ‘Amazon Academy’ and that it will also discontinue its pilot food delivery business, ‘Amazon Food’ in Bengaluru.

“As part of our annual operating planning review process, we have made the decision to discontinue Amazon Distribution, our wholesale e-commerce website for small neighbourhood stores around Bengaluru, Mysore & Hubli.

“We don’t take these decisions lightly. We are discontinuing this programme in a phased manner to take care of current customers and partners and we are supporting our affected employees during this transition.

“We remain committed to India and will continue to invest across those areas where we can bring value to our customers including Grocery, Smartphones and Consumer Electronics, Fashion & Beauty, as well as our B2B offerings such as Amazon Business”, Amazon said in a statement.

Amazon Business is a B2B marketplace where third-party sellers sell only to business customers.

Amazon Distribution, which is now being discontinued, operated in three cities in Karnataka.

The exit will result in the layoffs of hundreds of workers

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FG Approves 14-Day Paternity Leave For Civil Servants

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The Federal Government has approved 14-day paternity leave for serving male officers whose spouse delivers a baby.

Head of Civil Service of the Federation, Folasade Yemi-Esan, in a circular said the leave will take effect from November 25, 2022.

She said the leave is in line with the provisions of the Public Service Rules, 2021 Edition.

“Government has also approved Paternity Leave for serving male officers whose spouse delivers a baby. The period of the leave shall be fourteen working days. The leave shall not be more than once in two years, and a for maximum of four children.

“Where the family of a male officer adopts a child under four months old, the officer will similarly enjoy Paternity Leave for a period of fourteen working days,” the circular read.

Yemi-Esan also said request for such leave must be accompanied by the Expected Date of Delivery’s (EDD) report of the officer’s wife or evidence of approval of the adoption of the child by the relevant government bodies.

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Buhari Promises Legacy Of Credible Elections In Nigeria And West Africa

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President Muhammadu Buhari has promised to leave a legacy of free and fair elections in Nigeria and the West African sub-region at large.

The Nigerian leader will finish his second term next year and has reiterated his desire to conduct a hitch-free election, adding that the country is committed to a stable West Africa.

He said this on Monday at the 2022 second ordinary session of the ECOWAS parliament in Abuja, according to a statement from presidential aide Femi Adesina.

“We are convinced that the sustenance of democracy and the rule of law should remain the norm in this promising region,” he said.

“There will be multiple political activities in some ECOWAS member states, including Nigeria, where general elections are due to be held in February and March 2023. Let me seize this opportunity to reiterate my commitment to free, fair, and transparent elections and smooth transitions. This is one legacy that I want my administration to bequeath, not only to Nigeria but to the region as a whole.”

Buhari said threats to peace and security, political instability, and the adverse impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and the Russia-Ukraine war are the biggest challenges facing West Africa.

‘‘It is on record that the region has not rested on its oars as we have always striven to evolve effective regional mechanisms to address these challenges.
‘‘For example, at the height of the pandemic, Heads of State of ECOWAS appointed me as the ECOWAS champion on COVID-19,” he said.

‘‘Working with three Ministerial Committees comprising Member States’ Ministers of Health, Finance, and Transportation, we developed an effective response by mitigating the effect of COVID-19 on our citizens. Our efforts yielded positive results as the ECOWAS region became one of the sub-regions least affected by the pandemic, in terms of mortality rate.”

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